The simple question that Dr Shaista Shameem, counsel for Burness v FNPF and the AG has for Tompkins and Rashbrooke, upon reading the Fiji Times is this:
If, as Tompkins and Rashbrooke say, (1) FNPF pensions were ‘not contracts’ and (2) the FNPF pensioners were ‘winning at someone else’s expense‘ , why did the Government and FNPF (joined at the hip), and taking advice from the Solicitor General who is a party to the action, not allow the High Court to decide these legal questions?
Surely these legal issues, since they have been challenged in the Burness case, can only be decided by a court of law? Why was there a need for FNPF and the Government to interfere with the independence of the judiciary by including section 11 (6) in Decree No 51?
Dr Shameem is certain that neither Tomkins nor Rashbrooke (nor indeed the Solicitor General Christopher Pryde) would be allowed to get away with this type of blatant abuse of power in their own countries, namely Australia and New Zealand. Especially where a radical alternation in pension rights has been implemented without the due process of parliament. The NZ Law Society has already commented on Decree No 51 as purposely interfering with the power of a judge to decide a case already in the High Court.
She says Tompkins, Rashbrooke and Pryde’s actions in discriminating against FNPF pensioners represent the worst form of neo-colonialism and export of neo-liberal market ideology to a Pacific Island nation. Due to its political naiveté the Fiji Government has no idea what this new pension policy will mean for the people of Fiji in the long run. Aisake Taito’s lack of economic acumen is apparent every time he makes a press statement.
Dr Shameem says the people of Fiji deserve better than carpetbaggers from Australia and New Zealand deciding their fate and they certainly deserve a lot better than Taito’s tight-shirted ‘attitude’ problem.