20 August, 2019
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Civil Society Parliamentary Programme 2014

Parliament hosted its inaugural Civil Society Parliamentary Programme on Thursday, 20th November 2014. The Programme was facilitated by Prof. Richard Herr of the University of Tasmania and Mr. John McDonald of the Parliament of Tasmania, focusing on the theme: Ministers, Minders and Information Management.

Representatives from the Civil Society and the Media participated.

“Parliament, Civil Society and the Media: A View from the Chair” – Hon. Laauli Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt

The Hon. Speaker supported civil society and the media working alongside parliament to enhance Parliamentary engagement with the public.

 

Public Information – Office of the Attorney General

The Office of the Attorney General discussed the freedom and limitations of  usage of public information in reference to the Constitution of Samoa, Standing Orders and Legislative Powers and Privileges Ordinance 1960.

 

The Institution of Parliament: A Layperson’s Introduction

 

“What is a Parliament?” – Prof. Richard Herr

This session focused on defining the separation of powers and the constitution, the Parliament and its role. It also touched on the relationship between the Parliament and its citizens, through Parliament’s representative role.

 

Civil Society and Public Engagement with the Parliament: A Two Way Street

 

“A Democratic Right and Institutional Obligation” – Prof. Richard Herr

 

Focusing on the Role of Parliament, this session discussed the relationship between Parliament and Civil Society, through providing access and input in Parliamentary work.

Lobbying Parliament: A Practitioner’s Experience

 

“Some Issues Regarding the Civil Service and Political Minders” – John McDonald

 

The session concentrated on the role of civil society in lobbying and presenting views to parliament as a group.

The Media and Parliament: Responsible Reporting

 

“Public Interest and Prudent Obligation” – Prof. Richard Herr

The session focused on the relationship between the media and Parliament, which described the relationship as ‘fraught and uneasy’ due to powers of Parliament and the strong democratic imperative of the public’s right to know.

 

The Media and Parliament: Responsible Reporting

 

“Some Thoughts on Privilege and Parliament’s Intellectual Property Rights” – John McDonald

 

Discussions focused on parliamentary privilege and rights, as well as what the media can and cannot report on.

Panel Discussion on Engagement with the Parliament

Prof. Richard Herr (Chair), John McDonald, Toleafoa Pili Afamasaga (Media), Alalatoa Breeda Faitua (NGOs) and Rev. Tanuri Pesaleli (Religious Body)

 

The panelists discussed the importance of the programme for all the groups involved in understanding not only the roles and obligations of Parliament to the public but also the role of the public to Parliament.

As a way forward, the question, “where do we go from here?” was discussed.

Mrs Faitua urged the participants to work together to assist Parliament through better engagement, stressing on the must for civil societies to participate in the consultations and designs of our nation’s laws. She added that civil society can assist in taking Parliament to the people as well as lobbying effectively amongst interest groups in order to achieve positive change for today and the future.

Mr Asiata commended Parliament for holding and hosting this ‘long overdue’ colloquium and supported improved engagement with Parliament so that media is informed adequately of Parliamentary matters thereby improving their role as ‘ears and eyes’ of the nation by disseminating information and accurate reporting.

Amongst much advice given by the programme facilitator, Prof. Richard Herr urged participants to observe the processes and work within the set parameters.

 

The participants appreciated the opportunity given to them to be part of the Civil Society Programme 2014.

The Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Fepuleai Letufuga Attila M. Ropati in his closing remarks duly thanked the participants for accepting Parliament’s invitation to be part of this inaugural Civil Society Programme.

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