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Parliament Adjourned to Monday 23rd October 2017

National Parliament of Solomon Islands

Parliamentary Strengthening Project

 

THURSDAY 12TH OCTOBER 2017

A recent historical and successful visit by three Parliamentary Standing Committees to the eastern borders of Solomon Islands uncovered the seriousness of police security and deterioration, poor health services and the increasing threat of sea level rise on low lying Islands in this remote part of our country.

This visit was highly commended by rural Temotuans.

Towards the end of September ( 23rd Sept – 3rd Oct 2017), the three Parliamentary Standing Committees: Police, National Security and Correctional Services Committee; the Health and Medical Services Committee and the Environmental and Conservation Committee conducted three separate inquiries based on their terms of references in Lata.

For the Police, National Security and Correctional services (PNS&CS), the recent inquiry was their second to be conducted after the 2015 inquiry done in the western borders. The purpose was to hear views on border security and police integrity deterioration from members of those communities who come to present their views as witnesses.

The run down police station in Manuopo, Reef IslandsThe run down police station in Manuopo, Reef Islands

Acting Chairman of the Police Committee, Hon. Mathew Wale, told eastern border witnesses that the hearings allowed Parliament to engage with the public, thus, this process is significant to the Members of Parliament and the institution.

“We would like to hear your thoughts on border security and police integrity in this eastern part of the country.” Hon Wale said.

Witnesses in the eastern regions of Temotu willing shared their observations and provided the Committee with adequate information with evidences concerning their border with Vanuatu.

Like in the Western border, people of the outer islands of Temotu have informed the Committee that the issue of border security and threat and its impacts is so imminent and complex, consequently as a result of a chain of other issues.

Many recommendations were also made by various sectors like the biosecurity, customs, police and immigration officers who were also present at the hearings.

The committee will consider these in its report to Parliament when completed.

For the Environmental and Conservation Committee (ECC), the recent inquiry in Temotu was their third formal inquiry after its dialogue with the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Environment and first provincial inquiry on Malaita, in Langalanga lagoon and Lau lagoon.

As per the ECC TOR, the hearing in Lata was also to hear from the eastern islanders of Temotu on Impacts of Sea Level Rise due to climate change on their low lying coastal and atoll communities. Majority of Islands in this region are low lying.

Chairman of the Environment Committee, Hon. Culwick Togamana, explained to the witnesses that the inquiry was part of his Committee’s initiative to gather information from relevant stakeholders regarding sea level rise and its impact in the Solomon Islands due to climate change.

Sea level riseChairman of the Environment Committee, Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana stood by a grave washed by sea erosion caused  during a site visit. Looking on is an elder from Tuo villgae in the Reef IslandsChairman of the Environment Committee, Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana stood by a grave washed by sea erosion caused during a site visit. Looking on is an elder from Tuo villgae in the Reef Islands

It was evident from the witnesses’ contributions that they were really affected from this global threat of sea level rise.

A site visit to the low lying coastal village of Tuo in the Reef Islands by the Environment Committee further justified the witnesses’ sentiments during the hearing in Lata.

Their cemetery was now covered with sea water and remaining clothes and bones of their diseased family members are noticeable.

Among other areas affected, food security and drinking water are the main problems faced due to the increasing level of sea erosion onshore.

“Our wells used for drinking now taste salty and our root crops become smaller in size” explained a concerned Chief of Tuo.

The Environment Committee viewed such places like Tuo and other outer islands like Pileni, Duff, Anuta and Tikopia as very vulnerable to sea level rise due to their atoll characteristics and the only means for adaptation is to relocate. However, relocation is a sensitive issue given the nature of tribal land ownership.

Sea level rise threat and its impacts is so imminent and complex consequently as it results from a chain of other issues. However, the details will be made known to the public after the Committee’s report has been compiled and tabled in parliament.

Meanwhile, for the Health and Medical Services Committee (HMSC), this hearing in Lata was also in its second phase. This is after its first round of inquiry in 2016 where it took evidences from the general public and health officials from Kilu’ufi and Malu’u hospitals in Malaita Province.

A run down area health centre in Manuopo, Reef IslandsA run down area health centre in Manuopo, Reef Islands

Likewise, the Committee conducted inquiry in Lata purposely to gather collective information from Temotuans and health officials from Lata hospital and surrounding health centres and to hear their stories on the status and quality of medical services provided in this remote part of the country, by medical and healthcare facilities.

Temotu Province has only one hospital, one area health centre, six rural health clinics and nine nurse aid posts that provided health services in the province. Furthermore, most nurses that served in Temotu Province are secondary health care nurses. This showed that there is need to strengthen primary health care services of prevention.

It was obvious during the Committee’s sight visit to Lata hospital and Manuopo area health centers in the Reef Islands that most facilities are run down and unfit to use.

The Health Committee organized a public forum for the Lata general public to finally wrap up the inquiry. This was purposely for those who did not have the chance to share their thoughts and experiences regarding health services in their province.

The Chairman of the Health and Medical Services Committee, Hon. Charles Sigoto, assured the general public and health officials during the inquiry and the open forum that his Committee has taken onboard all their concerns and will be compiled in a report to be presented to Parliament.

Details of each of the three committees’ series of inquiry will not be pre-emptied or will not be disclosed for now. However, the general public will be informed through other forms on the outcome of all hearings after each Committee’s report has been compiled and tabled in Parliament.

All three committees are Standing Select Committees and are mandated by Parliament to perform oversight over the executive government’s decisions and actions.

This is to ensure that the government’s service delivery and sustainable development programs are maximized and prioritized to improve the socio-economic status and well-being of its people and the country as a whole.

The Temotu Provincial excutive and the rural Temotuans have expressed their gratitude and commended the three Parliamentary Committees as this was the first time in their history to receive seven Members of Parliament on their shores at one time.

Members of Parliament who are either Chair or members of each of the three Committees at the Temotu inquiry are: Hon. Mathew Wale, Hon. Culwick Togamana, Hon. Charles Sigoto, Hon. Connelly Sandakabatu, Hon. Peter Tom, Hon. Dickson Mua and Hon. Commins Mewa.

TUESDAY 10 OCTOBER 2017

Parliament at its resumption on Monday 9th October adjourned to Monday 23 October 2017 to give time for the Bills and Legislation Committee to consider the Strata Titles Bill 2017.

The Adjournment also gives time for the Prime Minister’s office to finalize Bills it plans to bring to Parliament, including the new Anti-Corruption Bill.

The Prime Minister further mentioned that the government also needs to finalize the 2018 budget estimates to table in November.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare when moving the motion for the special adjournment stated that the Bills and Legislation committee requested at least a week to look at the Bills currently before the house, especially the Strata Titles Bill 2017, however, government also realize they need time to finalize the budget that will come before Parliament.

Meanwhile, on Monday 9th sitting of Parliament the following Bills we put to first reading.

The ‘Legal Profession Bill 2017’, the ‘Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017’ and the ‘Strata Titles Bill 2017’.

Parliament expects to pass the annual Budget for the next financial year before the Christmas Festive sessions.

FRIDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 2017

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Speaker of the National Parliament of Solomon Islands have highlighted at the opening of the Gender Forum the Parliamentary women’s initiative, “Young Women’s Parliamentary group (YWPG)” as another initiative to progress gender mainstreaming in Parliament.

He said this in his remarks on Tuesday 26th September to open the Pacific Women’s Parliamentary partnerships Forum held at the Heritage Park Hotel in Honiara.
While he acknowledge the Parliamentary Outrigger workshop as a means for progressing out strategic object on gender mainstreaming he also spoke of the Young Women’s Parliamentary Group as another initiative in Parliament similar to the Parliamentary Outrigger.

On the 23 of June this year Parliament launched its Strategic Plan 2017-2021. The Plan was done in consultation with the Parliamentary House Committee and one of the objectives of the plan is to ensure that Gender will be mainstreamed throughout the activities of Parliament both in terms of the work of parliamentary staff and the work of Members of Parliament.

“This is not an easy undertaking but I have no doubt that we can learn from your experiences and your parliaments especially through programs and events such as this, “he said.

Initiatives such as the outrigger workshop not only build staff confidence but also help broaden their knowledge on gender and parliament.
“Another important initiative in our parliament is the Young Women Parliamentary Group,” he said.

Formed in 2010, with the vision to create a space for young women to actively participate in leadership, the group has just over 40 registered members both in various sectors.
The Group is engaged in a lot of activities but a notable one was in 2013 when the Group presented a signed petition to Parliament on the issue of Short Bus Routes in Honiara.

Parliament debated the issue, and established a Special Select Committee and one of the outcomes of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee, was the recommendation for improved roads.
You would have seen when you drove into town that work on this is happening.
“I am delighted that the Young Women Parliamentary Group will be part of the forum and I hope they learn from vast knowledge and experiences that are present here in this room.”

“Partnerships are a two way process and so we too hope that you will take back something positive from our experience. “

Present at the opening were: Hon. Manasseh Maelanga, Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands; Hon.Freda Tuki Soriacomua, Minister of Women, Youth Children and Family Affairs; Hon. Jane Prentice MP, Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services, Australia; Hon Dr Jiko Luveni, Speaker of Parliament of Fiji; Hon Francesca Semoso, Deputy Speaker House of Representative, Autonomous Region of Bougainville; Hon Nikki Rattle, Speaker of Cook Islands Parliament; Ms Joy Burch, Speaker of CWP – ACT; Hon. Ro Teimumu Kepa, Leader of the Opposition, Fiji Parliament ; Honourable Members of Parliament representing Pacific Parliaments including Australia and New Zealand; His Excellency. Roderick Brazier, Australia High Commissioner to Solomon Islands; Ms. Fiona Hoggart, First Secretary, Australia High Commission; Staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Canberra, Australia and Ms. Fiona Way, Project Manager Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnership (PWPP).
The forum ended on Thursday 28th September 2017
ENDS///

TUESDAY 26TH SEPTEMBER 2017

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A National Parliament staff receiving her certificate from the Deputy Speaker to Parliament, Hon. David Dei Pacha

A total of 42 Officers from the National Parliament Office, Office of the Leader of Opposition and the Independent Office received their certificates on Thursday 21st Sept 2017 for successfully completing a two day Outrigger workshop on gender equality from July 19th and 20th respectively at the Paul Tovua Complex, national Parliament House.

Dubbed as the first ever in the Pacific region, the gender workshop was jointly hosted by the National Parliament, Solomon Islands Government and Australia Government through Ausaid and Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnership.

It came about after both Clerk to Parliament Clezy Rore and the Director of Parliamentary Civic Education Department Patteson Lusi attended a Pacific Parliamentary workshop jointly hosted by the Federal Parliament of Australia for Clerks and trainers of Pacific Parliaments in November last year.

Clerk to Parliament Clezy Rore told participants at the official opening that one of the recommendation was for Pacific Parliaments to organize workshop or conference on educating Members of Parliament and staff of Parliament on the global concern of gender equality and its relationship to Parliament and politics in the Pacific.
“And I’m proud to announce that Solomon Islands Parliament is the first in the region to organize the Parliamentary workshop after the training workshop held in Canberra last year” the Clerk proudly stated.

With the theme “The Outrigger Navigating Gender Equality through Pacific Parliaments”, the two day workshop allowed both the facilitators and participants to share thoughtful discussions and views on the general understanding of gender.
It had also enhanced and increased knowledge of participants in analyzing and discussing gender issues and its relationship to Parliament and Politics in the Solomon Islands.

Participants have found out in great detail during the workshop that gender equality was not just about women and girls but moreover about equality and equity for both sexes.

Deputy Speaker of the National Parliament Hon. David Day Pacha in his speech said one thing that captured his attention was our Parliament is the first in the region to host a gender equality workshop for its staff as it is important for the work of Parliament and Members of Parliament.

“This demonstrated the passion and interest to freely discuss the core values and practical applications of gender equality not only in Parliament but in all spheres of development in this country.”

He further explained that when citizens see the word gender first thing that come to mind is issues relating to women and young girls, however, through this workshop participants will agree that it is all about equal opportunity to engage in aspirations and developments around us in our respective communities.
Hon. Pacha said he has full confidence in his officers who had completed the 2 days module and believed they will definitely assist Parliament in guiding and directing Members of Parliament on how they influence or make decisions on challenges or problems relating to gender equality and legislature.

He further added that the current DCCG Government is a strong supporter of gender, thus, he understands that it will address problems and challenges relating to gender and human rights in the country and abroad.

This first ever regional funded workshop is facilitated by staff of the Parliamentary Civic Education Department and the Clerk to National Parliament, who had attended Parliamentary trainer workshops at both the Bee Hive Parliament in New Zealand in 2015 and Federal Parliament of Australia in Canberra in 2016.

The official opening was also graced with the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Hon. Manasseh Maelanga and Representative of the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Project Manager Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnership (PWPP) Fiona Way and First Secretary Australian High Commission, Fiona Hoggart.

ENDS///

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2017

The Environmental and Conservation Committee (ECC) of the National Parliament will resume its inquiry into the “Impacts of sea level rise due to climate change on low lying coastal and atoll communities in the country” in Temotu.

The inquiry takes place in Lata, Temotu province from 23rd September to 3rd October of 2017.

This was initiated in 2016 to determine the extent of the situation on communities that are considered to be adversely affected by rising sea levels and would require immediate government intervention.

Hence, ECC began its inquiry with the Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Environment to gather scientific information on climate change, the impacts of sea level rise and climate change related activities that have been carried out by the government before commencing with its first provincial inquiry on Malaita, notably in Langalanga lagoon and Lau lagoon.

ECC would have preferred to travel to the Malaita Outer Islands (MOI) on that instance but was unable to due to budgetary constraints. The Committee views such locales as places very vulnerable to sea level rise due to their atoll characteristics and the only means for adaptation is to relocate. However, relocation is a sensitive issue given the nature of tribal land ownership.

The Committee will be holding public hearings and site visits with stakeholders that are representatives of the structural strata within a community such as church leader, committees, chiefs, elders, women leaders, youth leaders and so forth.
The ECC’s Terms of Reference are outlined as:

a) To examine, consider, observe and determine issues in relation to the impacts of sea level rise on low lying coastal and atoll communities in selected parts of the country to;
i. determine the impact of sea level rise; and
ii. determine measures adopted by low lying coastal and atoll communities to adapt and/or mitigate the impacts of sea level rise.
b) To examine and evaluate measures adopted and/or implemented by relevant administrative and implementing authorities to address the impacts of sea level rise.
c) Report back to Parliament the Committee’s findings and recommendations of the inquiry.

It is important for the public to understand that the inquiry is necessary to receive submissions and views of people in adversely affected communities, and also visit those communities in the country.
As much as the Committee would like to conduct a nationwide consultation, it does not have the time and resources to do so.

Therefore, it is very important for the general public, NGOs, CSOs, Churches, and Community Climate Change Committees to put forward their submissions to the Committee regarding your views and recommendations under the Inquiry’s TOR.

The Committee is chaired by Hon. Dr Culwick Togamana, MP for Maringe- Kokota and comprised of the following members; Hon. Dr. Derek Sikua, MP for North-East Guadalcanal, Hon. Charles Sigoto, MP for Rannonga-Simbo, Hon. Matthew Wale, MP for Aoke-Langa Langa, Hon. Alfred Ghiro, MP for East Makira, Hon. Jackson Fiulaua, MP for Central Kwara’ae, Hon. Connelly Sandakabatu, MP for North-West Choiseul, and Hon. Commins Mewa, MP for Temotu-Nende.

ECC welcomes submissions from the public concerning its above mentioned Terms of Reference. Submissions (written) can be from any members of the public, NGOs, CSOs, and ministries which can provide the Committee with more insights, observation, opinion and recommendations. Submissions can be forwarded to:

The Chairman of the Environmental and Conservation Committee, National Parliament of Solomon Islands, P.O Box G19, Honiara. Or sent to Committee Secretary via email: ComSec@parliament.gov.sb or gregory.fineanganofo@parliament.gov.sb
Parliament Media
ENDS///

MONDAY 25TH SEPTEMBER 2017

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East Makira Team along with Principal Santa Ana CHS and CDO Frosty

“This is the first time for Parliament team to visit our village at Manita” Quote from village representative.

The statement echoed by the villager sums up the success of the recent constituency visit conducted recently, by the Parliamentary Civic Education Unit (PCEU) to East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies.

On the 21st August – 2nd September 2017, a team of 4 officers of the National Parliament conducted a series of Parliament Outreach activities in eight (8) villages and seven (7) Community High Schools in East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies.
The PCEU team commenced with the constituency tour in East Makira Constituency on 21st – 27 August 2017.

The team visited Two (2) villages and Four (4) Community High Schools. One of the Interesting thing about the visit to four (4) Community High Schools was the schools were the main Centre’s whereby both staff, students and the surrounding communities gathered for the PCEU outreach workshops.

Such arrangement has been described as opportunity for both constituents from school and communities to listen to presentations, participated in group activities and more importantly shared views and concerns experienced by schools and communities.

The occasion provided an avenue whereby the team listen to firsthand information from both parties on their understanding of Parliamentary Democracy in Solomon Islands, adopted from United Kingdom when Solomon Islands became independent in 1978.
On the second leg of the constituency visit, the team visited eight (8) villages & seven (7) community High Schools in Central Makira on 27 August – 30th August 2017.
Similarly, the PCEU team conducted the awareness program on two approaches.

First, the civic team designed and delivered community presentation which was more detail and informative and suitable for rural people. Power presentation for schools consisted of graphics, photos and illustrations that is easier for students to learn, remember and appreciate.

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At Cambell School Central Makira. Students during group work explaining the 3 Arms of the State

Both presentations (for community & school) focused on the definition of the Westminster Parliamentary system, functions of Parliament, roles of Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees, Law Making Process and the supporting services of National Parliament.
For this recent visit the PCEU was fortunate to speak and interacted with over 1,500 constituents.

“We are delighted to directly engage with constituents and to listen to their inadequate understanding of the Parliament and roles of MPs. Moreover, after the sessions, one thing the civic team appreciated was the fact that majority openly declared that this was the first time for Parliament team to visit their respective communities or schools,” PCEU Director, Patteson Lusi stated.

The team would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for making the tour possible.
Hon Alfred Ghiro MP East Makira Constituency and constituency officers.
Hon Nestor Ghiro MP Central Makira Constituency and constituency officers
Speaker of National Parliament

Clerk and Management of National Parliament
Solomon Islands Government
Premier and Provincial Executive of Makira Ulawa Provincial Assembly
Chief and elders of selected communities in East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies
School Principals of selected High Schools in East Makira and Central Makira Constituencies.

The Parliamentary Civic Education team next constituency tour is on the second week of the October whereby the team will visit three constituencies in the Western Province, this includes Ranongga, Simbo, North and South Velalavela Constituencies.
Ends ///

FRIDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2017

The Parliamentary Bills and Legislation Committee (BLC) will begin their inquiries into two Bills that are currently before the House.

The two Bills are the Legal Profession Bill 2017 and Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017.

According to the hearing schedule, BLC will first hear from stakeholders of the Legal Profession Bill 2017 on Wednesday and Thursday. The inquiry will end with the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 on Friday 15th September.

The objects and reasons of the Legal Profession Bill are to regulate the legal profession, to facilitate the fair and efficient administration of justice and to provide for the protection of consumers of legal services and the public. The Bill establishes two new legal entities to jointly regulate the profession, the Legal Profession Authority (LPA) and the Solomon Islands Law Society (SILS).

The Bill also sets out the requirements for admission to legal practice and the minimum standard of professional conduct expected from legal practitioners and creates a Disciplinary Committee of Solomon Islands Law Society (SILS) and a Disciplinary Tribunal to effectively deal with complaints about unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct. Both disciplinary bodies are presided over by a High Court Judge.

In addition, the Bill provides sufficient investigatory powers to ensure the disciplinary bodies can effectively investigate complaints; provides for the issue and annual renewal of practising certificates dependent upon compliance with the Act and Rules and compliance with the requirements to undertake continuing legal education; introduces categories of practising certificates to properly reflect the knowledge and expertise of the practitioner; sets out strict requirements for dealing with trust money for the protection of clients and provides for separate trust accounts and for proper record keeping and auditing of trust accounts.

The Bill also has strict requirements in relation to the costs legal professionals can charge their clients. It requires the disclosure of costs and costs agreements. It provides for costs assessment by the courts if there is a dispute.

Finally the Legal Profession Bill 2017 further provides for the appointment of supervisors of trust accounts, managers and receivers in certain specified circumstances where such intervention is necessary.

Stakeholders to appear before BLC on the Legal Profession Bill will include senior officials from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Legal Drafts person, Chief Justice, Chief Magistrate, Attorney General, Solomon Islands Bar Association, Director of Public Prosecution, Public Solicitors Office and two prominent Lawyers Andrew Radclyffe and Rodney Kingmele.

Meanwhile, the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 will sum up the BLC’s hearing on Friday 15th September as was stated in their schedule.

The object of this Bill is to increase the number of ministers from 23 to 24. This amendment will facilitate the creation of a ministry to administer the Solomon Islands Tertiary Education and Skills Authority Act 2017. Responsibility for this Act currently rests with the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development.

Stakeholders invited to appear before BLC on the Prescription of Ministers (Amendment) Bill 2017 include Officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Legal Drafts Person, former Prime Ministers Sir Francis Billy Hilly, Rt Hon Ezekiel Alebua, Sir Allan Kemakeza, Former Governor General Sir Nathaniel Waena, Former Politicians/public servants Sir Paul Tovua, Mr. Job Dudley Tausinga, Ms Ruth Liloqula, Concerned citizens Mr. Charles Dausabea, Mr.Leslie Kwaiga and a rep from Forum Solomon Islands International (FSII).

Delayed broadcast of the hearings will be made available for listeners in the provinces via SIBC.

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