31 Oct 2002

New Fiji opposition leader to tackle racism in parliamentary debates

5:34 pm on 31 October 2002

Fiji's new opposition leader, Mick Beddoes says he is concerned about the quality of debate in parliament which has concentrated too much on race relations.

Mr Beddoes says too much focussed has been the divisions between Indigenous and Indo-Fijians at the expense of pressing issues such as poverty.

He says some politicians have forgotten the fact that problems such as poverty and unemployment affects all people regardless of race.

"There's too many racial overtones when were talking about housing we continually talk about it in how many Indians or Fijians who don't have homes. We should be tackling the issue of poverty, we should be tackling the issue of unemployment, we should be tackling the actual issues and getting our teeth into it and trying to come about resolving the problems and if we moved away from the racial rhetoric we'd make tremendous progress."

Mick Beddoes

Mr Beddoes, leads the United General Party, and was sworn in by the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, after the Labour party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, twice turned down invitations to take up the position.

He succeeds Prem Singh of the National Federation Party who stepped down from the position after losing his Nadi Open seat three months ago.