23 Dec 2002

Fiji Labour says no discussion of land issue until Cabinet debate resolved

5:26 pm on 23 December 2002

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has abandoned talks with the Government to resolved the issue of expiring farm leases on indigenous owned land.

Mr Chaudhry says he will not pursue talks with the Government until the court case on his party's inclusion in the Cabinet as part of a multi party government is resolved.

The Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, says he will now incorporate proposed changes to land lease laws into a Bill and present it to Parliament early next year.

Mr Qarase says the Government and the Native Land Trust Board are working together on changes to the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act and the implementation of the Native Land Trust Act.

But land laws in Fiji are defined as entrenched legislation and any amendments will require the approval of two thirds of the House of Representatives.

The Government does not have such a majority and this effectively means that such legislation cannot be passed without the support of the Labour Party.