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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 8, 1999 – Radio Australia)---Members of Fiji's Opposition have walked out of Parliament, saying they are not being given ample time to research bills before discussion.

The walkout took place when a bill on the removal of the Value Added Tax from essential food items was being read for the second time in Parliament.

The Deputy Opposition leader David Pickering said while the Opposition is not against the bill, under Standing Orders it should have enough time to make intelligent remarks.

"As you know, the issue that we are concerned with in the Opposition is that under standing orders of the House of Parliament there is a requirement which requires the Government, when bringing bills to the House, that they are required to have these Bills gazetted 30 days before they appear on the order paper of the House."

Pickering said, each Member of Parliament is "required to be handed a copy of the bill . . 21 days before it is debated. And in this case. . . the Opposition has seen fit to do what can be termed in parliamentary language as "suspend standing orders. In other words, suspend the rules."

The bill was passed in the absence of the Opposition MP's.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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