The live relay via radio of the proceedings of our elected representatives can sometimes become tedious for the electorate listening in. But it can be quite entertaining and intriguing at times. Take for example the last sitting of the House on 27 March.
Common roll member Terry Coe had introduced a motion to compel the big bosses to provide for the road maintenance crew with proper road sealing-tar to repair potholes on the roads that are still, more or less, in reasonable nick.
The topic of roads and road maintenance is a hot issue and has been for some time. Assemblyman Talaiti attempted to derail the debate because, in his view, the topic had been thoroughly debated in previous sittings.
Speaker Togaivalu Pihigia ruled that the motion before the Assembly was for road maintenance whereas previous debates were on re-sealing the roads. This cleared the way for almost all members present to have their say.
The debate was as wide-ranging as the different sizes of the potholes. The common thread was in the condemnation of the state of the roads. Even the government’s supporters in the House, ever mindful perhaps of the wishes of their own electorates, voiced their concerns. Clearly some folks are taking extreme measures and are using rocks to block vehicles from swerving onto the road kerb to avoid potholes. The debate went as far as speculating that the wrong tar was being used.
After enduring this general cacophony for a while, the Premier finally reacted. “The people are tired of listening to your stupid nonsense” – was the sentiments expressed by the Premier. The remark was challenged by Assemblyman Tatui. Premier, sensing that he may have overstepped the mark – his own informal caucus was involved – apologised, withdrew his comments and fired off another broadside: “If this motion is passed, I will pull-out the crew re-sealing the road from Makefu to Mutalau and you people who are in favour of the motion can take over and tell them how to fill the potholes”.
That did not deter Assemblyman Coe, who thanked members who spoke in favour of the motion and asked them to vote in support of the motion. When the motion was finally put, only two members voted in favour. Which goes to show that what you say and how you vote are two entirely different things.
The Odd Joint
The rules on how the Niue Assembly conducts its business is contained in a document call the Standing Orders. If it is not covered by the Standing Orders the House relies on tradition. One of these traditions is that a member can seek leave to table a document or, as was the case in the last sitting, a joint.
Here’s what Talaniue knows: Assemblyman Terry Coe was given possession of what is alleged to be a joint – fulu-motie in local parlance. It is alleged that a supply of fulu-motie was available at a function to farewell a high profile controversial departing government employee. In an attempt to highlight the fact that the island may not be as innocent as some may think, Coe wanted to table the alleged joint during the debate on the amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The Speaker denied the request and instructed the clerk to hand it back to the member. So what was the fate of the fateful joint? “I left it at my seat in the Fale Fono”, Coe said. Anything left behind in the debating chambers after a sitting is considered by the Fale Fono cleaning staff as rubbish. Bottom line – it’s gone where all grass clippings go.
Fatured pic credit: Pixabay.