Nauru MP ridicules government claims to credibility
Nauru opposition MP says government claims that it is restoring the island's legal system is nonsense.
The Nauru opposition has ridiculed claims by the country's president, Baron Waqa, that his government has brought credibility back to the legal system.
Mr Waqa claims his government, through its reforms, has restored the nation's pride and that the first priority was cleaning up cronyism and corruption.
He claims it was a tough call to remove high profile people, including the chief justice, who, he says, put their interests ahead of the nation.
But opposition MP and former justice minister, Mathew Batsiua, told Don Wiseman the president talking up reforms of governance structures is total rubbish.
MATHEW BATSIUA: They have done nothing so far but undermine the strength of our governance system in Nauru, and I say that because they have interfered persistently in the rulings of our courts; they have interfered persistently in the orders given by the Chief Justice and they claim cronyism and they fail to come up with examples. It is total rubbish in my opinion and the government is just coming up with excuses to justify their ill-informed actions in interfering in the judiciary in Nauru.
DON WISEMAN: When they were in New Zealand earlier this month [Justice Minister David Adeang and Home Affairs Minister, Charmaine Scotty] they made a promise to have a more transparent process in terms of the selection of new people for the judiciary. How confident are you that, I guess, one that they are going to do it and two that they are going to get the people that the country needs, given the way they have treated these judges?
MB: Yeah well look I have total suspicion that the process will be a credible and independent one. This government has got a track record of nepotism. Minister Adeang has appointed relatives of his to run the OPC [Overseas Processing Centre - the asylum seeker camp] as managers, for example.
DW; Do you think that New Zealand was hoodwinked by these two ministers who came down here and made these promises to them?
MB: I think the Nauru government is desperate to get their version of events out there and I think that's what they did. I think the New Zealand government has got a vested interest to make sure the reforms and the money they have spent in assisting Nauru in the reforms to the justice sector has not gone down in vain, so they will be keen to make sure things continue. And I am pleased that that has happened but I still remain sceptical that our government will do the right thing and will undertake a process that will lead to the appointment of credible people into the judiciary.
DW: How do you imagine it all working out. There had been talk of the government wanting a state of emergency because they were losing numbers in parliament, but it's still stable there is it?
MB: That [ a state of emergency] was definitely under consideration. We heard during the last parliament sitting that a state of emergency was very possible. We did speak with a couple of the back benchers that gave us support in government, just to make sure that they understand the repercussions of an SOE, and they were sensible enough to talk to the government and we believe the government backed down. They backed down from calling and SOE because they would lose numbers. I guess anything could happen with this government. They are very volatile but they are very determined to get their way. At the moment they can't remove the Chief Justice, so that is why the SOE was being considered, so they can removed the Chief Justice under an SOE. Because that has happened we have a stalemate in our judiciary but something has to give because we need a functioning judiciary. You know the government is solely to blame in this regard because they created the turmoil in our judiciary.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: