Nauru election hopefuls facing prohibitive fee to stand
People in Nauru putting their hands up for election in July say they are losing hope due to the exhorbitant application fee.
People in Nauru putting their hands up for election in July say they are losing hope due to the exorbitant application fee.
A group of 18 prospective candidates have asked the Supreme Court to stop the government from hiking the fee from $100 Australian to $2000.
They say given their pay and the cost of living in Nauru, the move is a cynical ploy to keep newcomers out of parliament.
Alex Perrottet reports.
Matthew Batsiua is a suspended opposition member. He is one of those banned from Parliament two years ago for speaking to the international media about the Government's controversial actions.
He says this latest move is more of the same from a government trying everything to avoid being voted out.
To us, the government have increased the fees to deter potential candidates from challenging so that's very undemocratic. And so we've taken a stance against that, and moved this legal challenge now.
Joseph Harris is a newcomer to politics. He works as a driver at Australia's regional processing centre for asylum seekers. And he says 90 percent of the voters' dissatisfaction comes from Nauru's high cost of living, and low wages.
The cost of living compared to what we get in wages, the balance tips more against the worker to provide food for the family. It's just too low to get by.
Joseph Harris says he's fundraising so he can stand in the election. He is holding barbeques and stalls but says it's not looking good as the deadline approaches.
The fee is equivalent to three months' work.
A fellow worker is Corey Menke. He says he is paid $AU4.25 an hour.
In one fortnight I will get around $220-230, it's way below the cost of living here on Nauru.
Corey Menke says workers have been petitioning their bosses - Broadspectrum - the company formerly known as Transfield Services, that runs the asylum seeker processing centre.
He says Broadspectrum tell him its hands are tied, as the government won't allow it to pay locals more than what the government pays its low-tier public servants.
While Broadspectrum promised to respond this week, the Nauru Government did not reply to requests for comment.
But the group of 18 say their best hope is to get elected and change things for the better.
Corey Menke says there's no other option than to go to court.
Everyone actually knows that they are trying to cut down on candidates being nominated for the elections because they've done lots of policies, changes and amendments on the constitution which if they get out of office, then they'll face criminal charges and everything.
But it's little consolation that the ball is now in the Supreme Court's hands.
The five opposition MPs banned from parliament have had their cases stalled for the best part of a year by a government that still hasn't let their lawyers into the country.
Instead, it admitted the lawyers to practice in the country, but hiked the visa fee to over $AU6,000.
It has also dramatically hiked visa charges for foreign journalists to a level that ensures they cannot visit the island.
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