The Constitution of Fiji
The Constitution of Fiji though similar to many others adopted within the Commonwealth since the end of the Second World War departs in many respects from the Constitution of the United Kingdom and that of New Zealand. The Constitution of the United Kingdom is wholly unwritten and that of New Zealand is only partly written as contained in the Constitution Act of 1852. Fiji not only has a written Constitution; the Constitution also incorporates the rules or principles which are accepted as constitutional conventions in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In this thesis attention has been given to the position of the Governor-General as the representative of the Queen and the powers conferred upon him. The fact that he is a local appointee makes his position even more delicate. The problem is accentuated in that the exercise of some of his powers are made nonjusticiable by the Constitution.
It is also suggested in this work that the fact that the Constitution of Fiji has an entirely different basis from that of the United Kingdom or New Zealand renders many of the principles adopted in those countries inapplicable. The notion of parliamentary sovereignty propounded by Dicey and others does not apply. The Constitution, not Parliament, is supreme. Judicial review of legislation is inevitable and the courts are intended as guardians of the Constitution. There are other important differences many of which are the result of the political decisions made on behalf of the three main races in Fiji before the Constitution was drafted. The separate Fijian administration and the powers of the Council of Chiefs are illustrations of these provisions. The fact the indigenous Fijians enjoy a privileged position through the separate Fijian Administration and the Council of Chiefs is discussed.
The system of representation in the House of Representatives with a combination of the communal and multiracial electorates provides an unusual, perhaps questionable, experiment towards a solution of the tensions and problems associated with a heterogeneous society. Likewise the fundamental rights provisions have special significance in a multi-racial society like that of Fiji. As a background to the above matters a comprehensive survey of the constitutional history of the country is attempted.
The role of the judiciary has been given significant emphasis throughout the thesis as it is felt that the judiciary is linchpin of the Constitution of Fiji.
Concluding observations have been offered on ways of making the spirit of the Constitution, as enshrined in the preamble to the Constitution, a reality; and to engender a national outlook amongst the people of all ethnic groups.