Thursday, October 16, 2008

Secretary of Pacific Island Affairs comes to Geelong

from Peceli
Today Wendy and I had lunch at the Wholefoods Cafe to meet the Hon Duncan Kerr who is the Parliametary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. His constituency is in Hobart as he is the Federal Member for Denison. He came to Geelong for a youth program which was a kind of United Nations forum on Climate Change, but he had time to meet with about twenty people for lunch, some local Labour Party leaders. Wendy and I represented our local Fiji community which is part of Diversitat who hosted the lunch. Two Maori women, Fran and Joanne, were there also. I was able to talk to the Hon. Mr Kerr about Fiji and he seems to be a very understanding man. He said he had been in Fiji a few times, including to monitor the last election. We talked also about the seasonal workers scheme and he hoped that Fiji could be included later on.

1 comment:

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

from w
Any reader living in Canberra might be interested in a seminar today which will look at courts and coups in Fiji. Should be very interesting.
Courts & Coups - Fiji’s October 2008 High Court Judgment in the Qarase Vs Bainimarama Case
Duncan Kerr, Parliamentary Secretary, Pacific Affairs, Federal parliament of Australia.

George Williams, Anthony Mason Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales and Counsel for Chandrika Prasad in the March 2001 Court of Appeal case.

Graham Leung, is the Managing Partner of Howards Lawyers in Suva, and was formerly President of the Fiji Law Society and Chairman of the Electoral Commission as well as serving as Judge Advocate in the Fiji Military’s Court Martial of those soldiers responsible for a mutiny in May 2000.

Anthony Regan, Research Fellow, State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program, RSPAS, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU.

Jon Fraenkel, Research Fellow, State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program, RSPAS, College of Asia and the Pacific, ANU.

On 9th October, Fiji’s High Court ruled that the President’s actions in appointing an interim cabinet in January 2007, and in continuing to rule by decree in the wake of Fiji’s December 5th 2006 coup, ‘were valid and are held to be lawful’. The three-member High Court panel, led by acting Chief Justice Anthony Gates, found that the President held certain ‘prerogative powers’ not provided for in the constitution, that ‘exceptional circumstances existed’ and that ‘the stability of the State was endangered’. The decision effectively legitimises the post-coup interim order. It is likely to be appealed.

Court judgments in constitutional cases in the wake of previous Fiji coups have generated widespread international debate. In November 2000, Justice Gates, then sitting on the High Court in Lautoka, found that the human rights of Indian sugar cane farmer Chandrika Prasad had been violated by Fiji’s 2000 coup and ruled that the post-2000 coup government was illegal. His judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal in March 2001, a decision which paved the way for fresh elections and a restoration of constitutional democracy in Fiji. Both judgments, which widely explored the applicability of the doctrines of ‘necessity’ and ‘effectiveness’, were widely celebrated as exemplifying emergence of a ‘new jurisprudence’ as regards the judicial handling of coups (see, for example, Hatchard & Ogowewo, Tackling the Unconstitutional Overthrow of Democracies, Commonwealth Secretariat 2003). The latest judgment side-steps the precedents set by the Chandrika Prasad judgments, by focussing instead on presidential reserve powers.

This panel brings together eminent legal scholars and politicians and Fiji specialists to discuss the significance of the Fiji High Court’s latest judgment.

Speaker/Host: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program
Venue: Sparke Helmore Lecture Theatre 2
Date: Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Time: 2:00 PM - 4:30 PM