"Returning Fiji to Parliamentary Democracy is very important because I am fully aware of the pain and struggles ordinary people go through after the coup in 2006. My husband who is sitting in the gallery today was unceremoniously removed from his job as the Director Corporate Services, Human Rights Commission without any reason given until to date. "
"In the last 8 years the civil service has seen some new interesting issues and may I name two. The first one is the heavy militarization as witnessed by military officers taking up senior Government positions, some of them are still in the service and others have graduated to become politicians. However, now that we are back to Democratic rule, we ask the question when will these military personnel in the civil service return to the barracks?"
"The fact that I can not speak in my Indigenous language in this House as per your ruling yesterday tantamount to breach of my Human Rights. So I ask the question is this a democratic way of addressing this issue? Is this the new brand of Democracy that we are hearing from the Government side? Why cant the Government come up with alternative options like provision of interpreters in chambers which I am sure we are all familiar with from our exposure in meetings overseas." SODELPA MP SALOTE RADRODRO
The Honorable Speaker
1) I rise as a member of the Opposition and the Alternative Government to present my Maiden Speech in this revered chamber for the first time. It is indeed a great honor and privilege to be able to do so and I thank our Lord Jesus Christ in granting me this opportunity.
2) My warmest congratulations on your election—a proper recognition of your widely-acclaimed services to this nation AND I extend my support in your vital role.
3) At this point may I take the opportunity to applaud the comments made by the Assistant Minister for Education in saying that real men do not hit or bully women.
Thank you Hon. Vijay.
However Madam Speaker;
Contrary to that I note with grave concern that the Hon. Prime Minister and the Hon. Attorney General are trying to bully you in trying to be the time keeper and interjecting which is in breach or Standing Orders.
Indeed the actions of Government members speak louder than words.
3) I also rise, in union with members on this side of the House, with a sense of duty and purpose to undertake the essential steps necessary to make sure that our parliamentary democracy works for the benefit of our people and the interests of our country.
4) I am honoured and humbled to stand before you, not only as an elected member, but also as a woman, a mother and grandmother and also as a retired civil servant who worked in the Administrative cadre for 36 years in the Ministry of Health, Foreign Affairs, Public Service Commission, Strategic Framework for Change Office and the Ministry of Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation prior to retirement in 2012.
5) I recall the days when we worked together, I as the Director and you as the Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation and in this regards I am indeed glad that our paths have crossed again. However, even though we are at different sides of the House, I believe we hold the plight of women and children close to our hearts and regardless of our political affiliation we can still continue to work together for new constructive policies to ensure the empowerment and development of women in all spheres of life and the elimination of violence and discrimination against women and children.
6) I also take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude that our beloved Fiji is back under Democratic Rule. Returning Fiji to Parliamentary Democracy is very important because I am fully aware of the pain and struggles ordinary people go through after the coup in 2006. My husband who is sitting in the gallery to day was unceremoniously removed from his job as the Director Corporate Services, Human Rights Commission without any reason given until to date.
7) It has been 8 long years in the wilderness, but now we are in a position to move forward, as alluded to by His Excellency The President in his Opening Of Parliament Address on the 7th October 2014 and accordingly now we can enjoy real democratic freedom, our human rights restored, our Judicial System unfettered and unbiased, where the rule of law is without any prejudice and we have media that is free of restrictions or bias, to print, broadcast and televise the truth, to keep our citizens informed and to inform us, the Duly elected representatives, of our citizens' views and concerns.
However, Madam Speaker;
8) The fact that I can not speak in my Indigenous language in this House as per your ruling yesterday tantamount to breach of my Human Rights. So I ask the question is this a democratic way of addressing this issue? Is this the new brand of Democracy that we are hearing from the Government side?
9) Why cant the Government come up with alternative options like provision of interpreters in chambers which I am sure we are all familiar with from our exposure in meetings overseas.
10) Let me also take this opportunity to congratulate all Honorable Members, for their successful elections to Parliament. In particular, I salute my other colleagues, Honorable Women Parliamentarians, for taking a stand and be counted in this very important part of our history in returning Fiji to Parliamentary Democracy.
11) Women are the mainstay of our homes, the glue in our societies and the change agents who make things happen. In Fiji more than 50% of our populations are women but today we only have 7 women out of the 50 members of Parliament.
12) This is only 14% and the gap is glaring. However, there are options such as Temporary Special Measure under the CEDAW arrangement or the Quota system and I urge Government to positively consider so as to boost women’s participation in politics.
But Madam Speaker in having said that;
13) I look forward to working together with these fine women and of course with all the honorable gentlemen, to bring about positive and meaningful changes to the lives of our people especially women and children through this Parliament.
1) I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all those that contributed to my campaign and the success in this journey.
2) To My late parents, Naibuka and Leba Vuibureta, thank you for your upbringing and molding me into I am today. I am sure you are here with me in spirit and I once again hear your words of advice, encouragement and reassurance through the holy words of Isiah 41- 10 and I quote: “ Do not be afraid for I am with you, do not be dismayed for I am your God, I will strengthen you and I will help you. I will uphold you in my righteous right hand”
3) To my husband Kitione, we have journeyed together in an attitude of ‘what’s best for each other is best for us’. your unwavering love and support, has helped to bring me here today.
4) To my sons Viliame, Isimeli and Alipate and their families and especially my adorable grandchildren thank you for your love and sense of humour, which has kept me grounded, focused and brings a smile when the going gets tough.
5) To my brothers and sisters, thank you for making Ta and Na’s words of wisdom come alive through your love and support. To my beautiful big sister Mrs Mere Hudson, thank you for holding my hand on election day, during the count and sitting up into the night awaiting the official result.
May I also extend a big vinakavakalevu to the following:
6) Families from Mualevu, Vanua Balavu, Yacata, Bua in Fiji and abroad
7) My Church family - Tabacakacaka Tacirua, Delaivalelevu, Kalabu, Wasewase Naitasiri, Davuilevu and CMF community.
8) My constituencies under the Vanua Vakaturaga o Kalabu, Makoi , Tacirua Heights, Newtown, Khalsa Road,Caubati and Lau
9) My Campaign team especially Mr Kele Naidiri and family, the Team of volunteers and all polling agents
10) My Adi Cakobau School Old Girls Network , especially my classmates and schoolmates, in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, USA, Indonesia and Fiji. Thank you for the “Waimanu Kui” spirit to “ Always Leave this World Better than we Found it”.
11) My teachers from Adi Cakobau School thank you for teaching me to question, negotiate and debate
12) Friends, colleagues and all those that voted for me around Fiji and abroad.
13) Lastly, the SODELPA party for giving me the opportunity to contest under their banner and vision.
- Thank you all for your prayers
You all have helped me find my political values and live my dream
C) Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation
1) I am happy to be given the responsibility to be the spokesperson for Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation and also the Public Service from the Opposition side.
2) In this regards, Madam Speaker, I applaud the inclusion of the “Protection of Children” in the 2013 Constitution, however, I note with great concern the absence of any specific provisions for the development and empowerment of women. And as such it remains unclear as to what coordinated plan the Government may have. However that being said, I look forward to the upcoming Budget session to see what is the actual budgetary allocation for the Ministry as a whole and more so for the Department of Women.
Because , Madam Speaker;
3) At the end of the day budgetary allocation mirrors the Government’s mandate and commitment and it is the true measure of their words as expressed in previous statements and those to come.
D) Constituency Issues and Concerns
1) In response to HE The President’s Address in Opening Parliament on 7/10/14, May I highlight some issues that were brought to my attention during my campaign trips in relation to the listed freebies like “free water and free electricity” .
2) The “Vatuyalewa Community” in Tovata, Laqere do not have piped water supply and yet they are the nearest settlement to the reservoir in that area. Each household have all plumbing connections done yet for some reason they are still not connected to the main water line and to this very day they are still using water from the well and rainwater.
3) There is also a community within Wainibuku – Nakorovou that is not connected to the main FEA grid.
4) If we are serious about poverty alleviation then accessibility to safe piped water supply and electricity should be first addressed before giving out “freebies”.
5) Unemployment is high along the informal settlements from Tacirua – Kalabu to Tovata and Makoi area. It seems that the Government’s solution to the country’s problems is to spend, spend and spend on freebies. Of course sometimes you must spend to get results, but you must spend in areas where you obtain not only a significant return on the investment, but where you achieve a variety of positives.
6) Activities and Industries that create the most jobs should be where our focus is. Job creation alone addresses and resolves many other social and economic problems of our country. We should create more jobs, improve inflows of foreign direct investments, and address the lousy wages our people are currently earning, improve people’s skills so they are employable, design specific programs that will assist our women and young people who are unemployed and those dropping out of schools.
7) The Tacirua Heights area (where I live), Khalsa Road and wider Nasinu area have been continuously faced with the rubbish collection issue. Concerns raised with the Suva Rural Local Authority have been knocked back to the Nasinu Town Council and until now nothing has been resolved and residents have to make their own rubbish disposal arrangement. But yet we witnessed the distribution of free rubbish bins on the eve of the election in the same area.
For a cleaner environment, the people need assistance in proper waste management and not free rubbish bins.
8) Lau Constituency;
Part of my Constituency is the Lau Group and I am proud to say that they are skilled crafts makers and are industrious small business owners however their accessibility to market continues to be constrained due to poor boat services. Therefore Madam Speaker, any poverty alleviation programs for our beloved Province, Government must include sea and air transportation as a priority Developmental Plan.
E) Civil Service:
9) Let me say something about the civil service. In the last 8 years the civil service has seen some new interesting issues and may I name two. The first one is the heavy militarization as witnessed by military officers taking up senior Government positions, some of them are still in the service and others have graduated to become politicians. However, now that we are back to Democratic rule, we ask the question when will these military personnel in the civil service return to the barracks?
10) The second issue is the massive increase of the Permanent Secretaries salary without any proper Job Evaluation and which totally disregarded market relativity. The salary increases was beyond 100% (range between 110% - 192% ) depending on the size of the Ministry but it must be noted that this increase does not trickle down to Deputy Permanent Secretary and further down the line. The difference between the Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary is beyond 200% (is 260%.) How is that justified? There is a serious pay gap which is basically “Pay Discrimination”.
11) The Collective Bargaining mechanism has also been removed and therefore the civil servants don’t have any mechanism to file such grievances.
12) It must also be noted that the similar trend in massive pay gaps do exist with Members of Parliament salary and benefits as stipulated under the Parliamentary Remuneration Decree No 29/ 2014. A comparative analysis between the 2006 and 2014 remuneration show us a massive upward adjustment from Assistant Ministers to PM and a downward adjustment to the Opposition and other backbenchers.
In this regard, Madam Speaker;
13) In the spirit of justice and fairness, May I suggest that a committee is established to review this pertinent issue?
Furthermore Madam Speaker,
14) For transparency and accountability in the civil service, there needs to be clear separation of powers. Simply, Separation of Powers in a Democracy is necessary so to prevent abuse of power and safeguard freedom for all.
But as it is we note that the 3 most important Portfolios - Attorney General, Finance and Public Service to ensure separation of powers are held by the same Honorable Minister Khaiyum. And therefore the issue of “conflict of interest” arises and as such the separation of Powers becomes blurred.
Thank you Madam Speaker