That was the rationale behind the Opposition calling for a vote by division in parliament last week for the newly-passed Companies Bill.
In a vote by division, MPs stand to cast their votes, rather than voicing their support with the traditional “yea” or “nay”, “ai or kare”.
Says Beer: “We are concerned, as this is a bill that contains over 400 clauses and only having one day in parliament to deal with it was insufficient time.”
The bill is an update to a 1955 Act, adopted from New Zealand, and Beer says it contains huge changes that parliament needed to comprehend. The bill contains over 400 clauses and devoting just one day to dealing with it was insufficient, he says.
However, Finance minister Mark Brown says the legislation modernises the previous Companies Act, making it easier for people to set up their own company or business.
“It allows new technology to be incorporated. The registration of companies can now be done online, rather than through traditional paper means.”
Beer says the Opposition supported the technological advances proposed by the bill to speed things up, but were concerned it could require future updates as a result of the legislation being pushed through so quickly.
Nevertheless, Brown says the new legislation contains benefits that can be taken advantage of in establishing a company, if you’re already running a small business.
“You can limit your liabilities under a company structure. You can also leverage your ability to borrow to maximise your capital. And you can also claim back VAT that you have paid on goods and services that you purchased.”
Brown says before the bill went to vote it appeared to have widespread support across parliament.
He adds the Opposition recognised that one of the Cook Islands Party members was not in the House but was away attending a funeral, when they called the vote by division.
“The opposition was trying to take advantage of the situation and topple the bill.”
Brown says the Opposition’s attempts failed when it came down to the vote and the support the government received from One Cook Islands.
The Companies Bill was the second law to be passed in parliament last week.