Improved legal guidance within government is needed

June 7, 2024 4:37 pm

Victoria University of Wellington Professor Jon Fraenkel during an interview with FBCNews

A comparative politics professor believes that the government was not getting quite the legal advice that it needed.

Victoria University of Wellington Professor Jon Fraenkel says this has been evident in the government’s handling of parliamentary pay raises, which has highlighted concerns about the decision-making process and the quality of legal advice.

Fraenkel says the appointment of Graham Leung as Attorney General had been anticipated since last year, suggesting a long-standing need for improved legal guidance within the government.

Article continues after advertisement

He claims there are ongoing challenges within the government’s advisory framework, prompting a closer look at the efficiency and effectiveness of its legal decision-making.

“Listening to the Prime Minister say to the news outlets in Fiji the other day that he was badly advised that the support for the Parliamentary Emoluments Committee report in Parliament didn’t necessarily mean that it would go into law. I mean, that was not very good advice. Parliament makes laws; that’s what Parliament is about, and clearly, the government needs to be getting solid legal advice.”

He adds that Graham Leung was a candidate who was tipped to be Attorney General right after the election in December 2022.

“Well, I think this has been on the cards since last year. Since that political crisis, I think it was around October last year when Filimoni Vosarogo was to become Attorney General. There was a recognition that Siromi Turaga might be better deployed elsewhere and that perhaps the government wasn’t getting quite the legal advice that it needed.”

According to Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, Siromi Turaga could have done better as attorney general.

However, he also confirmed that there was a need for the cabinet to acquire additional legal expertise.

Meanwhile, Professor Fraenkel believes that it would have been much better for the government to allow the pay rise decision to be taken by an independent body so that no one could be accused of determining their own pay.