Arrogant and disrespectful to change indigenous land laws without consultation
Friday 23rd July 2021
The National Federation Party is deeply concerned that Government is trying to rush changes to the iTaukei Land Trust Act without consultation. It is arrogant and disrespectful of the Government to rush through changes to indigenous land laws in this way.
The Government says that it wants to improve business efficiency by eliminating delays in getting TLTB consent for mortgages.
But it has not consulted TLTB on these changes. It has not consulted anybody.
These changes go much wider than mortgages. And landowners have the right to ask why this is happening.
Ever since independence, all governments and all mainstream political parties have respected the primacy of land rights for Fiji’s indigenous people. NFP began in the 1960s as a party representing tenant farmers. But we have always respected the rights of indigenous people to their land.
We have always recognized that matters concerning iTaukei land are matters for the Taukei. We agree that any changes to laws affecting iTaukei land should be widely consulted on and decided on by the Taukei.
Every previous constitution of Fiji had special rules about changing laws relating to iTaukei land. Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum imposed the 2013 constitution on Fiji and for the first time took away those special rules.
Why do they now want to rush through changes without proper consultation?
If the problem is that some TLTB consents are slow, why not fix that problem at TLTB? After all, the Prime Minister is the chairman of TLTB. Why doesn’t he do his job?
Why is it necessary to change the law in such a draconian and dictatorial way?
We oppose Bill No 17 and we join the calls to have it withdrawn immediately.
This is just one more failure of leadership by the Fiji First Government – and one more reason why, in the next general elections, the Fiji First Party must go.
Professor Biman Prasad