Dear Prime Minister, Greetings from New Zealand!
Thoughts on the draft constitution
Much of the Government draft constitution is excellent and in some ways superior to the Ghai draft that I thought unnecessarily long and complex. But from reading the comments of others, and from my own reading, there is still room for improvement. This, I assume, is the reason for your current meetings with the Fiji public: to talk and explain, and to listen to their ideas for improvement. For what it is worth, here is my list of what I think are the more important:
1. Much would be gained and nothing lost if indigenous land rights were enshrined , and if the constitution reaffirmed and promoted each culture and language, multi-culturalism and multi-lingualism..
2. Authority needs to be shared more widely, with others such as the relevant government ministers and the the leader of the the opposition involved together with the PM in appointments to the more important appointments and commissions.
3. Parliament is likely to have too small a pool of the different talents with 41 members and could be increased to 51 members, Further consideration could also be given to closed rather than open lists.
4. The membership of government bodies, the police, corrections service and the military, should progressively become more representative of Fiji’s ethnic, cultural and gender diversities.
5. Government decrees should be debated and, if thought necessary, amended during the term of the first parliament.
6. There should be an Office of the Ombudsman, and a body similar to the Great Council of Chiefs should be established to advise government on the affairs of the iTaukei, Rotumans and the minority cultures such as Banabans, Tuvaluans and Kai Solomoni..
7. States of Emergency should be limited to ten days before referral to parliament.
8. The constitution, especially its less central provisions, should be more open to amendment.
9. A representative Election Commission should be appointed as soon as possible.
I trust you and your advisers will give these thoughts consideration.
4 April 2013