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Legislative Assembly proceedings to receive technological upgrade

Radio & TV Tonga, Nuku’alofa, 07/05/2020

The 2020-2021 Parliamentary session was opened this morning with several changes made to the usual Parliament Opening Ceremony, with the biggest change being His Majesty appearing via livestream from the Royal Palace to deliver His Royal Address.

The Speaker of the House – Lord Fakafanua says it is fortunate that the laws do allow for these changes to be made due to the current circumstances the country is in with the coronavirus restrictions in place.

In an interview with the speaker – Lord Fakafanua says there are also e-Parliament plans to give Parliamentary proceedings, a technological upgrade, reducing the use of paper and physical documents, which Lord Fakafanua says will be a great step for the environment, but it will also make Parliamentary proceedings easier with the aid of technology. The Lord Speaker said they expect to begin moving towards this with the upcoming Parliamentary sessions discussing the proposed budget from government.

The changes to this morning’s opening ceremony were due to coronavirus restrictions prohibiting large gatherings and maintaining social distancing, and although these changes were necessary the Speaker said it felt like part of the spirit of the occasion was lost without the usual celebratory activities that accompany the opening of parliament.

However, Lord Fakafanua said these measures only emphasize the importance of taking preventative action during this COVID-19 pandemic, and that it was important to follow the advice and directives from the health officials

Parliament will proceed next Monday with the agenda including the swearing in of new members of parliament, the House’s response to the Royal Address, and the budget for the next fiscal year.

© Radio and Television Tonga News