The Price of Democracy

[Originally published in the Vanuatu Daily Post’s Weekender Edition.]

As I write this, Vanuatu’s members of Parliament are plodding through the Government’s budget bill. It’s an unusual second consecutive week of work for our MPs, and though everyone is intent on seeing the job completed, they’re giving the work the attention it deserves.

Opposition members have kept cabinet ministers on their collective toes. Following a salvo of incisive questions from across the floor, Finance Minister Molisa sent his staff back to the Ministry with instructions for more detailed briefing materials. The lights were burning into the small hours at Finance.

Measured in strictly procedural terms, progress may be slower than Speaker George Wells might want, but the Opposition, looking revitalised and with a newfound sense of purpose, has been… well, doing its job, to be frank. That’s a refreshing – and timely – first.

It may seem silly to outsiders, but I’m not the only one here who’s taken some encouragement from these few weeks of Parliamentary process. After years of listening to the same tiresome tirades against do-nothing politicians, we are at last seeing something genuinely newsworthy in Vanuatu politics: A thorough and detailed investigation of how the nation spends its money.

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