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Parliament Sitting Summary 24th- 25th January 2017

Parliament Sitting Summary 24th- 25th January 2017

The Assembly reconvened on Tuesday 24th January, to begin its first sitting for 2017. The following summary provides an overview of business which was put before the Assembly, Members who participated in debates and various issues which were raised in regards to particular Reports and Bills.

• 6 Annual Reports were tabled in accordance with Standing Order 49 by the Samoa Law Reform Commission; Development Bank of Samoa; National Kidney Foundation of Samoa; Samoa National Provident Fund; and the Samoa Airport Authority.
• The Samoa Senior Citizens Benefit Fund tabled its report on Operations and its Statement of Accounts for the fiscal year 2015-2016.
• The Ministry of Justice, Courts and Administration tabled the Judiciary’s Reply to the Report of the Special Inquiry Committee into the Lands and Titles court.
• 5 Parliamentary Committee Reports were tabled in accordance with Standing Order 52(5). These reports included 3 from the Social Sector Committee; 1 from the Finance and Expenditure Committee, and 1 from the Economic Sector Committee.
• 3 Bills were second read: the Supplementary Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2016/2017 and the Constitution Amendment Bills (No.1) and (No.2). These Bills were also considered in detail and third read.
• 3 additional Bills were third read; namely, the Coroners Bill 2016, Village Fono Amendment Bill 2016 and the Police Service Amendment Bill 2017.

1. Adjournment for Urgent Public Business
The Hon Prime Minister delivered a Ministerial Statement before Government Orders of the Day, speaking on the Report of the Special Inquiry Committee on the Lands and Titles Court; he then moved a motion for the House to adjourn for urgent public business to debate the Judiciary’s reply to the Committee Report tabled on Tuesday 24th January 2017.
Members who participated in the debate included:
1. LOPAOO Natanielu Mua, Chairperson for Special Inquiry Committee and Member for Vaisigano No.2 (HRPP);
2. Hon AEAU Peniamina Leavaiseeta, Member for Falealupo (Independent);
3. Hon FAAOLESA Katopau T. Ainuu, Minister for Justice and Member for Vaimauga West No.2 (HRPP);
4. TAFUA Maluelue Tafua, Member for Aleipata Itupa i Lalo (HRPP);
5. Hon GATOLOAIFAANA Amataga Alesana Gidlow, Member for Faasaleleaga No.2 (HRPP);
6. Hon FAASOOTAULOA Pati Taulapapa, Member for Gagaemauga No.2 (HRPP); and
7. Hon TUILAEPA Auelua Faitalofa Lupesoliai Lolofietele Neioti Aiono Galumalemana Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Member for Lepa (HRPP).
All Members indicated their support for the Special Inquiry Committee’s Report and commended the efforts of the Government to address longstanding issues within the Lands and Titles Court which have affected much of the populace over the years. Following debates, the Hon Prime Minister moved a motion for both reports to be referred to Cabinet for further scrutiny; the motion was carried.

2. Overview of Bills considered by the Assembly:
I. The Supplementary Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2016/2017 was second read, considered in detail and third read. Members who spoke on the Bill included:

1. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
2. TOLEAFOA Vaafusuaga Ken Poutoa, Member for Lefaga and Faleaseela (HRPP);
3. LOPAOO Natanielu Mua, Member for Vaisigano No.1 (HRPP);
4. FAAULUSAU Rosa Stowers, Member for Gagaemauga No.3 (HRPP);
5. TAPULESATELE Mauteni Tamasone Metuli II Esera, Member for Vaisigano No.2 (HRPP);
6. ALIIMALEMANU Alofa Tuuau, Member for Alataua Sisisfo (HRPP);
7. Hon FAUMUINA Faaolatane Liuga, Member for Palauli le Falefa (HRPP);
8. OLO Fiti Afoa Vaai, Member for Salega East (Independent);
9. SULUMANAIA Fetaiai Tauiliili Tuivasa, Member for Vaimauga East (HRPP);
10. TOOMATA Aki Tuipea, Member for Salega West (HRPP);
11. AUMUA Isaia Lameko, Member for Falealili (HRPP);
12. LEAANA Ronnie Posini, Member for Safata West (HRPP);
13. ILI Setefano Taateo Tafili, Member for Aana Alofi No.1 (Independent);
14. FUIMAONO Teo Samuelu Teo, Member for Falealili East (HRPP);
15. NAFOITOA Talaimanu Keti, Deputy Speaker and Member for Gagaemauga No.3 (HRPP); and
16. FAALOGO Iosefa Sopi, Member for Siumu (HRPP).

Issued raised by Members included the following:
1. The Member for Urban West stated that there is a need for increased funding for Parliamentary Committees, to assist them in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities, particularly in regards to site visits.
2. Several Members, such as the Member for Lefaga and Faleaseela, raised concerns of the recurring loss of students’ examination records by the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. Solutions to the issues put forward by Members including the proper utilisation of appropriated funds to procure quality technological resources to ensure safekeeping of such records.
3. Other Members directed the attention of the House to the lack of school buildings in larger constituencies, in addition to the shortage of teachers for existing schools. The Member for Alataua West illustrated this point by stating that there is only one school for all 12 villages within her constituency, suggesting that another school be constructed to cater for the many school aged children within the area.
4. Many Members raised issues in regards to water, in terms of quality and supply, for their respective constituencies. For example, the Member for Vaisigano No.1 noted water servicing the areas of Asau, Vaisala and Auala were declared unsafe in September 2016. The Member then suggested that if the Samoa Water Authority lacked the capacity to find solutions to these recurring issues, resignations should be tendered.
5. Issues directed at the Minister of Health included the disrepair of some existing health care centres, the construction of hospitals in certain districts and the lack of available doctors to service existing health care centres – such as was raised by the Member for Gagaemauga No.3. Other Members raised the issue of the transfer of patients overseas for medical care, querying the expense of such undertakings.
6. The Member for Palauli le Falefa drew the attention of the House to unused funds from previous financial years, querying why several Ministries were unaware of their specific allocations. To alleviate this ongoing issue, the Member suggested that the Ministry of Finance implement training programmes to inform Ministries and Corporations of their allocated appropriations, so that monies may be fully utilised for their allocated purposes.
7. Several Members made requests to the Minister for Works for the construction or repair of roads, and the drilling of boreholes in their constituencies, such as the Member for Salega East.
8. The Minister for Natural Resources and Environment received requests from several Members to address litter issues, such as the cleanliness of villages in addition to litter disposal processes at the Tafaigata and Vaiaata dumpsites. Other queries and requests related to the lease of customary land; whether they can be leased to residents of particular villages and queries as to the process of leasing land to foreigners.
9. The Minister for Communication and Information Technology was queried by several Members as to the effectiveness of the National Broadband system, in light of the recurring loss of students’ examination records.
10. The Minister of Public Enterprises was queried as to the effectiveness of past Public Sector Reforms, as can be evidenced in the sector today.
11. All Members supported the Bill and made special mention of the Special Inquiry Committee on the Lands and Titles Court and its respective Report. Members gave their vote of thanks to the Government for initiating the Committee as a response to longstanding public grievances with the Lands and Titles Court.
After the Government provided its responses to the issues raised by Members on the floor, the Bill was second read, considered in detail and third read. The Supplementary Appropriation Bill (No.1) 2016/2017 was passed by the Assembly on Tuesday, 24th January 2017.

II. The Constitution Amendment Bill (No.1) 2016 was second read on Wednesday, 25th January 2017 after it had been introduced on 20th December 2016. Members who spoke on the Bill included:

1. OLO Fiti Vaai, Member for Salega East (Independent);
2. Hon FONOTOE Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Member for Anoamaa West (HRPP);
3. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
4. ALAIASA Moefaauouo Malagaitutogiai Sepulona Moananu, Member for Anoamaa East (HRPP); and
5. Hon TUILAEPA Auelua Faitalofa Lupesoliai Lolofietele Neioti Aiono Galumalemana Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Member for Lepa (HRPP).

Issues raised by Members included the following:
1. One of the points raised by the Member for Salega East is that perhaps the proposed amendment was premature, as it is important to keep the State prosecution functions separate from, and independent of the Attorney General. He stated that this would avoid any possible conflicts of interest in future prosecution cases.
2. The Member for Anoamaa West noted his support for the Bill, and stated that whether or not the prosecution functions of the National Prosecution Office (NPO) are reverted back to the Attorney General, aggrieved parties in disputes may still find recourse through private proceedings.
3. Several Members commented that the issues which arose within the NPO in 2016 were perhaps the result of poor recruitment processes. Others stated that in the future, the Government should select more mature and experienced legal practitioners to undertake important legal functions, such as those which were delegated to the Director of the NPO under the 2015 Act.
4. The Hon Prime Minister informed the House that its decision to dissolve the NPO was not made in haste and that the Government strongly believed that the proposed changes are both necessary and positive.

III. The Constitution Amendment Bill (No.2) 2016 was second read on Wednesday, 25th January 2017 after it had been introduced on 20th December 2016. Members who spoke on the Bill included:

1. OLO Fiti Afoa Vaai, Member for Salega East (Independent);
2. Hon GATOLOAIFAANA Amataga Alesana Gidlow, Member for Faasaleleaga No.1 (HRPP);
3. LOPAOO Natanielu Mua, Member for Vaisigano No.1 (HRPP);
4. Hon LAUOFO Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, Member for Anoamaa West (HRPP);
5. ALIIMALEMANU Alofa Tuuau, Member for Alataua West (HRPP);
6. FAUMUINA Asi Pauli Wayne Fong, Member for Urban West (HRPP);
7. NAFOITOA Talaimanu Keti, Deputy Speaker and Member for Gagaemauga No.3 (HRPP);
8. LEALAILEPULE Rimoni Aiafi, Member for Faleata West (HRPP);
9. FAAULUSAU Rosa Duffy Stowers, Women’s Reserved Seat (HRPP);
10. Hon FAUMUINA Tiatia Faaolatane Liuga, Member for Palauli le Falefa (HRPP);
11. TAEFU Lemi, Member for Falelatai and Samatau (HRPP);
12. FUIMAONO Teo Samuelu Teo, Member for Falealili East (HRPP);
13. LEAANA Ronnie Posini, Member for Safata West (HRPP);
14. AUMUA Isaia Lameko, Member for Falealili West (HRPP);
15. ALAIASA Moefaauouo Malagaitutogiai Sepulona Moananu, Member for Anoamaa East (HRPP);
16. MULIPOLA Leiataua Laki, Member for Aiga i le Tai (HRPP);
17. SULUMANAIA Fetaiai Tauiliili Tuivasa, Member for Vaimauga East (HRPP);
18. TAFUA Maluelue Tafua, Member for Aleipata Itupa i Lalo (HRPP);
19. Hon AEAU Peniamina Leavaiseeta, Member for Falealupo (Independent);
20. TAPULESATELE Mauteni Tamasone Metuli II Esera, Member for Vaisigano No.2 (HRPP);
21. TUIFAASISINA Misa Lisati Leleisiuao Palemene, Member for Palaui East (HRPP);
22. SALAUSA John Ah Ching, Member for Faleata East (HRPP); and
23. Hon TUILAEPA Auelua Faitalofa Lupesoliai Lolofietele Neioti Aiono Galumalemana Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister and Member for Lepa (HRPP).

Issues raised by Members included the following:
1. All Members who spoke on the Bill noted their full support for the proposed definition of the State religion in to be inserted as a new Article 1. Many saw it as an opportunity to reflect the historical and current religious status of Samoa as a nation, as is stated in the Constitution’s Preamble.
2. Other Members also raised possible difficulties in the proposed amendment, while others provided suggestions on how to further expand the propose Article. The Member for Faasaleleaga No.1, for example, suggested that the definition of Christianity also include other important Christian doctrines such as reference to the belief that Jesus Christ was crucified and later resurrected. Others opted to suggest including restrictions on other ‘non-Christian’ religions within Samoa, in efforts to deter the possible influx of religious fanatics who may carry out acts of terrorism, into the country.
3. The Member for Faleata West noted that a Christian State such as Samoa, should not resort to resort to un-Christian like behaviour, when it is attempting to assert itself as a Christian State. The Member stated that not only should we state our religion, we should follow the principles of Christianity through our actions.
4. Other Members noted that the proposed amendment would not pose any restrictions on other denominations, nor would it interfere with people’s freedom of religion, as protected under Article 11.
5. The Hon Prime Minister stated that the objectives of the Bill are straight forward, to define the State religion in the body of the Constitution, to give it legal force. He further stated that the matter will be open to further in depth discussion at the Committee stage and that the Government is open to hearing and taking on board the opinions of both Members and the public.

IV. The Coroners Bill 2016 and the Village Fono Amendment Bill 2016 were both read a third time and passed the Assembly on Wednesday, 25th January 2017.

V. The Police Service Amendment Bill 2016 was considered in detail and third read on Wednesday, 25th January 2017. The Bill was considered together with the Report from the Social Sector Committee, which proposed a correction to Clause 1. The Chairperson, Hon GATOLOAIFAANA Alesana Amataga Gidlow stated that the year of the Bill (2016) be substituted with ‘2017’. The Bill progressed to the third reading stage, as corrected, and subsequently passed the Assembly.

Parliamentary proceedings were adjourned at 11:02am on Parliament’s second sitting day, 25th January 2017. The House will reconvene at 9:00am, Tuesday 7th March 2017

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