PARLIAMENT is an institution that represents the interest of the people therefore legislators should always be prepared to carry out their legislative duties at all times for the people and the constituents they represent.
This is through their duties in Parliament to debate and vote on legislation, approve the budget and their best approach to represent the voters.
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Lord Fakafanua makes these remarks when he officially opens a three-day induction program for the MPs this morning.
In his keynote address he says the program is part of a continuing professional development for the MPs aims to familiarise new MPs with the work of Parliament and also to enhance their understanding of the parliamentary system.
Lord Fakafanua says there is no doubt the MPs have different professional background, qualification and expertise in different walks of life. However, they should also be mindful, Parliament work is different. It has its own convention and procedures and MPs have a constitutional duty to comply with its law and convention.
For that reason, the Lord Speaker says Parliament have a crucial role to provide professional development training for the MPs, aims at encouraging them to play active role in representing their constituents. While at the same remain in closer partnership with voters who elected them into Parliament.
Meanwhile the Clerk of Parliament Gloria Pole’o says as time evolves, MPs faces many challenges including new innovation such as modern technology, impacts of climate change and worldwide pandemic like COVID-19. Therefore, there is a need to upgrade the MPs knowledge and understanding on these issues.
In session one, Pole’o elaborates on the three main objectives of the MPs induction training. It is to provide professional development training for the legislators, consider best practices to adopt in order to effectively carrying out their legislative duties, and provide an opportunity for the MPs to raise issues and share new ideas on way forward to better execute their responsibilities as parliamentarians.
During the three-day induction program, there are 14 main sessions spread over a variety of topics. These include the core functions of Parliament, Bills process, motions, overview of Tonga’s parliamentary system and governance framework, parliamentary democracy and parliamentary privilege as well as the House Rules Procedure and Standing Orders.
The legislators will also broaden their understanding on their role to scrutinize the Executive. Pole’o told MPs one of the effective means of Parliament’s oversight role of the Executive is “Question Time”, which is widely used in overseas Legislatures, where Cabinet Ministers responds to questions from MPs. It is considered an effective tool use in the Legislature to scrutinise the government’s work.
The Lord Speaker also acknowledges the continuous support of UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, through the Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative funded by the Government of New Zealand in respect of technical support and funding of the induction program which concludes this Wednesday.