"The 10 staff at the Opposition Office is paid salaries ranging from $45,000 to $9,000. Mick Beddoes sits on a salary of $45,000 and Laufitu Malani, who was said to be a volunteer, is earning $36,000. All these appointments, salary scales and job description was made without consultation of the caucus and the party...None of the staff members interviewed had an appointment letter" - The Jale Report; Mick Beddoes to the Investigation Team: "I cam assume that my previous experience as a former Member of Parliament and Opposition Leader and Dr Lautfitu's experience as a Senator were skills the leader found of value to the party presence in parliament. All of the office recruits were from Sodelpa office that was part of the election effort and with just 10 slots to fill, those who missed out would naturally be upset. In putting the team together I concentrated on the SODELPA youth from day one; about 60% of our employees come from SODELA youth"
12 hrs · FIGHTING ON TWO FRONTS
When I walked into the Opposition Office for the first time and settled in, I was under no illusion about the enormity of the task ahead and the expectation of the people given the previous 8 years of oppression by Khai-Bai
To start my appointment was delayed for weeks because they had to get the PM's permission for me to work as I was over 55 years. Yes government had already appointed many citizens well over the age of 55 years but for some reason my appointment took forever and no sooner had they agreed, we were then all terminated because of their new formula of funding the office.
The battle for us in the Opposition was enormous to say the least and almost impossible given the disadvantage we had from day one.
We also have to put up with negative coverage in the Fiji Sun the government's main propaganda arm, which is dedicated to damaging SODELPA as as part of its mission of support for the Fiji First Government for which it is well paid.
Now as if that is not enough of a disadvantages on its own, we also have against us a biased and fearful Media that is not free or fair or balanced, we have the Sun that prints negative stories [mostly made up] every day in an effort to support the Government's plans to eliminate the opposition, then there is the distraction of the military 'crisis creation' division to justify their interference in what should be Police work and to cap everything off we have a citizenry who choose to remain silent on many issues preferring to talk in private for fear of repercussions.
Against all this our small group of 12 come to work every day ready to take the battle to the government, They get paid for 40 hours work, but exceed that every week with their determination and positive attitude still intact.
It is because of this positive attitude and belief in what we are doing that we have been able to help the opposition to push back on all fronts as required in a democratic system.
In Parliament we filed questions, motions, petitions and issued more than 100 statements; conducted 44 constituency visits and organized the Opposition Leaders successful North tour. We raised the Shirley Park issue, the plight of the GPH workers, We called out Government to produce evidence of Ministerial Salaries from 2009 to 2013 paid via Nur Bano Ali's company. In addition we asked questions about the almost $200 million spent by Khai-Bhai without supporting documents, our call for Justice for all 17 families whose loved ones were murdered by authorities, and mounted the successful Youth Fiji Flag campaign 'let fiji decide' that secured more than 18,000 signatures and changed public opinion and resulted in government deferring its planned flag change.
So we managed to achieve things, not as much as we would have liked, but it is a record of which we are proud despite the odds. A large part of the credit for this goes to the sterling leadership and guidance of Ro Teimumu Kepa and the dedication and attitude and spirit of the magnificent 11, that I have had the honor to lead.
Here's the thing. ... while we were doing all this, 5 SODELPA members of parliament and some officials at party HQ made the extraordinary decision to embrace an anonymous report containing smears of lies directed at the Leader and some of us in the office and embarked of a 'Crusade to discredit' Ro Teimumu, myself and a group of my colleagues. So instead on increasing our attacks against the poor behavior and policies of the government, they turned their sights inwards. The result was 5 months of internal bickering which caused us to lose momentum.
As far as I can see SODELPA can never hope to form a government as long as these disruptive elements remain part of it.
Not difficult to see that the only benefactor of the current crisis engulfing SODELPA is Fiji First.