Just after 3.30 pm this afternoon, the final count of the ballots from the members of the Fono Ekepule returned eleven votes against the motion defeating the vote of no confidence in the Dalton Tagelagi Cabinet.
Speaker Hima Takelesi reminded the members to respect the time limit of ten minutes and the fifteen minutes for Hon. Coe who introduced the motion. The sixteen members present all spoke after the presentation of the motion by Common Roll member Terry Coe.
Despite the Speaker’s decision that the vote will be by secret ballot, the members all made clear where they stood in support of or against the motion. The outcome was not a surprise because Hon. Coe told BCN news last week that they may not have the numbers but it is important to have the debate and to hear their reasons for putting the motion in.
Members in support of the government said that the motion of no confidence is uncalled for given that the government has done its best to keep the country free from Covid 19 for two years.
Ministers spoke of how difficult it is to be a member of the Cabinet during this pandemic, having to do their work knowing that not everyone is satisfied with their efforts.
Minister Hon. Mona Ainuu challenged the members to put their hands up to help instead of putting a vote of no confidence in the Cabinet.
In response Hon. Terry Coe said that he did put his hand up and offered to help but was laughed at, at the time. Coe spoke of the many projects still behind and the conditions of the roads and long-standing issues still not addressed.
O’love Jacobsen spoke about the need for transparency and for consultations; that putting forth this motion is one way to alert the government that they as the peoples’ representatives and raising their concerns.
Those in support of the motion spoke of the lack of consultation from the Cabinet on the issue of opening of the borders, some members calling on a temporary pause of the flights from New Zealand. Some of the members said that this lack of consultation from the Cabinet is seen in the recent decisions on the official opening of the new parliament building.
Different dates were mentioned until the Premier during his intervention mentioned that the official opening of the Fale Fono 2 will be at the end of April, which is the first time the members of the Fono Ekepule learn the actual date for the opening.
The sixteen members who attended the meeting today include all four members of Cabinet, Premier Dalton Tagelagi, Ministers Tatui, Ainuu, and Tongatule. Members of the Fono John Operator Tiakia, Makaseau Ioane, Dion Taufitu, Opili Talafasi, Tofua Puletama, Va’aiga Tukuitonga, Ricky Muiaki Makani, Pita Vakanofiti, Talaititama Talaiti, Ritchie Mautama and Common Roll members O’love Jacobsen and Terry Coe.
Member from Liku Pokotoa Sipeli and member from Namukulu Jack Willie Lipitoa and common roll MPs Stanley Kalauni and Richard Hipa are both overseas. Richard Hipa has been in New Zealand for health reasons since July last year.