Lord Tuivakano is facing a challenge from the opposition Democratic Party now that the minimum time period of eighteen months has elapsed since the last elections.
He says the Crown Law Office and Parliament Law Committee are studying the rules around votes of no confidence at the moment, because he believes they are unclear.
Lord Tuivakano tells Bruce Hill the opposition MPs haven't come up with a good reason why they want to replace his government, other than they want power.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker:Tonga's prime minister, Lord Tuivakano
TUIVAKANO: What they say is it's their constitutional right, although there's a motion put forward, it doesn't have any substantial reasoning. But I think it's because they said it's their constitutional right to put this through after 18 months. But I hope it's not something that they will always do it after every 18 months.
HILL: Do you think that you will win or lose this vote of no confidence in parliament?
TUIVAKANO: … because at the moment I think they have the numbers. We have the nine nobles and of course we have the independents. And that will depend on the day who has the largest number. Unfortunately we know that one of their members has come over, now he's been replaced as the Minister for Culture. But now it's equal, but of course it will be up to the Speaker where his casting vote will be.
HILL: This vote of no confidence has been put off and put off for a long time now. When is it actually going to be held do you think?
TUIVAKANO: Well I'm in the process now of replying to the motion because one of the things that as they put this motion, there's nothing in the standing order of parliament, so I think this is something that they have to look at very carefully because although the constitution says they have a right to have a vote of no confidence, but at the same time in the parliament's standing orders there's nothing about any vote of no confidence, the procedure, needs to be legal, it's something that has to be taken to the Law Committee to look at it.
HILL: What's the reaction been like from ordinary Tongans to this? What sort of feedback have you got from ordinary citizens?
TUIVAKANO: The feedback I think it's all the betrayal of the politicians, they do not want this thing to go through, because they don't understand what they are trying to do. But for them it seems that they want power, they just want their ?? to run this government. The only thing Bruce is that I'm hoping that this … in the constitution, it needs to be looked at very carefully so that we don't end up every 18 months a new parliament is going to wait, and have a vote of no confidence. And I think we don't want it to be like what's happening in the Pacific, very disruptive to the parliament and also not only the internal work but also international, people with ?? a lot of them there are waiting to see what's happening. And I hope it's not something that every member that comes in to parliament says oh, we'll have a vote of no confidence, possibly we'll change this. But I Think it's also something that we would deter good people who want to be in parliament, because they don't want to come in if this is going to happen every time.
HILL: So you're talking here about some of the anti-party hopping legislation which some of the other Pacific countries have introduced precisely to stop this kind of thing, having a motion of no confidence and people deciding to swap sides whether they're offered a cabinet post, that sort of thing?
TUIVAKANO: Yes but Bruce we have an impeachment, so if the prime minister does something wrong you can impeach them, they have procedures like that in our standing orders, you can do this. But this vote of no confidence this is a fairly new thing, we've just become a new democratic parliament in terms of we're just starting fresh, and ever since that happened it's not a very good thing for democracy to start and this thing happen. You need to have four or five years before you can see the actual work of parliament, and 18 months, I don't know, but I hope something that people shouldn't be used just because they want to be prime ministers or ministers or just want to change the government. This is a very serious thing, and this is the first time they have .. to the people, and if the people want to know what is happening, and I think the majority of the nation is very against this.