THREE Nobles of the Realm this morning officially opened the parliamentary session 2024.

They were His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala, (2) Lord Tu'iha'ateiho and (3) Lord Luani. The Nobles delivered to the Legislative Assembly of Tonga the King’s Royal Opening Address of Parliament.

Crown Prince Tupouto’a ‘Ulukalalala read the King’s address from the Throne, and he highlighted three priorities.

His Majesty was concerned about three issues including the use of illicit drugs in Tonga, socio-economic costs of overseas labour scheme and the challenge of more skilled workers migrating overseas.

The Crown Prince said a recent drug bust in which police seized illicit drugs worth 14 million in Tonga is a concern, despite the authorities’ efforts to curb its widespread use.

He said his Majesty is gravely concerned about the easy access of drugs to the people and the community. For that reason, the King stressed the importance for police authorities and relevant key stakeholders in urgently addressing the widespread use of drugs in Tonga.

He made a proposition to the Members of Parliament to take the issue to their respective constituency and find ways to help address the issue which remains a major challenge for Tonga.

The King also highlighted the negative impact of regional seasonal labour scheme in the society. There are increasingly number of people who take up this work opportunity overseas. He said despite the benefits it has to offer for labourers to make fast money for their family in the Kingdom, there are challenges it also imposed in the country. More locals are leaving overseas for such opportunities and less people are available to work in the agricultural sector as well as farming the land and bush allotments.

His Majesty also asserted to Parliament that another major challenge Tonga is now facing is the migration of skilled workers overseas. Skilled individuals and professionals leave the country and migrate overseas for better opportunities. Hence, it decreases the opportunity for creation of more jobs and new local businesses.

For this reason, His Majesty proposed to the legislators it is best they support and strengthen the work the Cabinet has been commissioned on labour mobility supply management strategy.

The King also challenged the people in the community and the church schools to continue play supporting role in the fight against the widespread use of drugs which remains an urgent priority in our country.

King Tupou VI also wishes the legislators well in their legislative work this year.

A nine member Select Committee was also established to respond to the King’s Royal Address. They include the Lord Speaker Fakafanua, His Serene Highness Prince Kalaniuvalu Fotofili and Lord Tu'ivakano (Nobles Bench). The Hon. Prime Minister Hon. Hu'akavameiliku, Dr. Viliami Latu and Dr. Siale 'Akau'ola from Cabinet. And from the Table Bench are Hon. Piveni Piukala, Hon. Dr. Mo'ale 'Otunuku and Hon. Kapelieli Lanumata.

The Select Committee meets at 11:00am tomorrow before Parliament sits next Tuesday on May 21st to discuss the Legislative Assembly’s response to the King’s Opening Speech of Parliament.

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