Fight for deputy Speaker’s role

Monday April 08, 2019 Written by Published in National

The Cook Islands Party-led coalition government and Opposition Democratic Party will be battling it out for the vacant deputy Speaker’s role when the Parliament starts today at 1pm.

 

Speaker Niki Rattle is out of the country on family matters and the new deputy Speaker will preside over the first parliamentary sitting of the year.

Toka Hagai, who lost his Rakahanga seat in a petition appeal last year, was the deputy Speaker.

Clerk of Parliament Tangata Vainerere said the government had nominated Tai Tura, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Mauke, for the role. The Opposition is yet to reveal their nominee.

Vainerere said the role would be decided through a secret ballot box where all present MPs would be casting their votes on their choice.

He said this would be the first time since early 2000 the Opposition have decided to nominate a member for the deputy Speaker’s role.

After the election of the new deputy Speaker, the swearing in of three MPs is expected to take place. They are Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston MP Albert Nicholas, Rakahanga MP Tina Browne and Ivirua MP Agnes Armstrong.

There will be a number of important bills including the Appropriation Amendment Bill that will be tabled in Parliament today.

Vainerere said the Appropriation Amendment Bill which would see adjustments to the current Budget to accommodate some changes in spending would take precedence over all other matters in Parliament.

“As per the Standing Order, when the Appropriation Bill comes through, that will go as the number one priority,” Vainerere said.

“We have another very important bill after the Appropriation Amendment Bill which is the Infrastructure Bill. The proposal is this will go to select committee for further consultation.

“This bill is about improvements on the current infrastructure such as water, electricity and others. This new bill will replace what we already have in an existing act.”

Vainerere said the Seabed Minerals Bill would not be tabled as consultations were still ongoing.

“There are also some bills already in the order paper and these are the ones from the last session of Parliament before the election (2018). We will be putting it there just in case the government wants to proceed with them.”

Vainerere said there was no indication as to how long this sitting would go for, adding it all depended on the business priority of the Parliament.

Meanwhile Opposition and Democratic Party leader Browne said they were looking forward to the sitting.

She said there were a lot of issues the party wanted to get clarification on from the government.

“This is also the first time for me to lead the Opposition in Parliament and I’m looking forward to it. It will be an educational experience for me.”

Twenty-three of the 24 MPs – 12 from the government side and 11 from the Opposition – are expected at Parliament today.

Te-Hani Brown, who has resigned from her seat pending petition hearing, is not expected to be part of the proceedings.

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