‘PARLIAMENTARY Process in a Democracy’ was the subject of a three day workshop held in Tonga last week by a New Zealand parliamentary delegation. Hon Maryan Street, a Labour MP, said that the onus was with the Tongan MPs, Tongan officials, and candidates for the November election to “pick what they think is useful for them.” During the visit to Tonga, August 9-11Maryan said they talked with Tongan participants in the workshop about what is happening in the New Zealand parliament, “about structure, election, campaigning, how the House is run, how Select Committee works and the day and the life of a Member of Parliament. “We were describing how things is happening in our system so that they may take the useful pieces that they may have picked up,” said Maryan, a former Cabinet Minister in the Labour Government and a spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations. Professinal media With regards to the New Zealand Media, Maryan said that “Freedom of the Media is one of the cornerstones of our democracy. The media are not our friends. They are professionals and that should remain to be the case.” Keith Locke, a Green Party member of parliament said that since New Zealand adopted a proportional representation composition for its parliament, the New Zealand Media could play a bigger role as the opposition. “The role of the media has increased, using the Information Act to apply a closer scrutiny of the proceedings of parliament.” Eric Roy, the leader of the delegation said there is one similarity between the New Zealand and the Tongan parliament, in that they are both unicarmel, single house legislatures. New Zealand closed its Upper House in 1952 and introduced First Past the Post voting, and in 1993 adopted a Proportional Voting System. However, the New Zealand members of parliament do not set their own salaries and they have to publicly declare their business interests and may not participate in a debate in the House on issues in which they have a business interest. With regards to the fact that with a Proportional Voting System there is no credible opposition in parliament, Eric said that the National Party had promised a referendum on the issue in 2011. “I don’t think the opposition is weakening,” he said, “it just takes a different form. A party can be for and against. “There are fundamental issues where the two major parties [the National and the Labour] will never agree, such as the budget. It is impossible for one party to have a majority.” There are seven parties in the New Zealand Parliament.