1 Nov 2003

Rowdy session in Fiji's Senate defeats motion to debate plight of women workers

9:42 am on 1 November 2003

A senator appointed by Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has told a fellow member of the Upper House that she should not speak on indigenous Fijian issues because she is not indigenous herself.

Fiji TV reports that Ratu George Cakobau made the comment when Senator Atu Emberson-Bain of the Labour Party moved a motion to debate the plight of hundreds of indigenous women workers at the state-owned tuna cannery.

There were constant interruptions by the government and Great Council of Chiefs senators without any attempt by the senate president, Taito Waqavakatoga, to restore order in the house.

Senator Emberson-Bain questioned the government's affirmative action programmes when senators went to such lengths to oppose better conditions for those workers who live below the poverty line.

Government and chief's senators easily defeated the motion.