Victoria joins project to support new Fiji Parliament

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The Victorian Parliament is providing technical assistance to the new Fiji Parliament under an initiative supported by the Australian Government.

The two year project, part of a package of measures announced by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop during her visit to Fiji last week, will involve a range of professional development activities to support the Fiji Parliament, its MPs and staff.

“We welcome this opportunity to contribute to democratic development in the Pacific region,” said Victorian Speaker Christine Fyffe. “We will be working in partnership with our colleagues at the Federal Parliament to assist Fijian parliamentarians and parliamentary staff as they tackle the many complex challenges involved with running a new parliament.”

The project will include mentoring of new MPs, training of staff in parliamentary practices and procedures, support for the development of parliamentary information technology systems, and assistance in the development of education and outreach programs to help inform the community about the way in which the new parliament works.

“There are so many elements to running a modern parliament,” said Victoria’s Legislative Council President Bruce Atkinson. “This program will enable Fijian MPs and staff to tap into the diverse expertise available here at the Victorian Parliament.

“I am particularly pleased that we will be able to build connections with the new Fijian MPs and discuss with them ways in which we can develop relations for our mutual benefit.”

The new project is part of the Pacific Parliamentary Partnerships program, linking 22 Australian and Pacific parliaments through twinning arrangements.

Funding has been provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Centre for Democratic Institutions at the Australian National University. The project is being conducted in conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme.

“This is a unique initiative that brings together a range of partners in a cooperative effort to give parliaments in our region the professional development opportunities they want and need to fulfil their representative, legislative and oversight roles,” Ms Fyffe said.

Victorian MPs Andrew McIntosh and John Pandazopoulos recently participated in an induction program for Fijian MPs. Two parliamentary advisers from Victoria have also visited Fiji to provide technical assistance with parliamentary procedure and ICT.

“This is about the practical measures needed so that the parliament gets the best start possible,” Mr Atkinson said.

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