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Demos look into Parliament controversy

Wednesday October 22, 2014 Written by Published in Politics
Leader of the Opposition Wilkie Rasmussen, pictured far left with the Demo Party roster of MP’s before the July 9 elections, is looking into challenging Government’s inaugural sitting of Parliament earlier this month.  14102114 Leader of the Opposition Wilkie Rasmussen, pictured far left with the Demo Party roster of MP’s before the July 9 elections, is looking into challenging Government’s inaugural sitting of Parliament earlier this month. 14102114

Democratic Party Leader Wilkie Rasmussen says he is seeking advice on whether further action should be taken regarding the Government’s inaugural sitting of Parliament.

“It is certainly something the party is looking at, although the Demo caucus hasn’t met yet to discuss any initiative,” he said. “If I get satisfaction out of those consultations, I’ll put it to the party that we should do something about it.”
In the aftermath of the October 8 sitting, Murienua Member of Parliament James Beer and former Clerk of Parliament John Scott voiced their concern over the handling of the evening’s business by House staff.
In particular, they took Clerk John Tangi and Speaker Niki Rattle to task for allowing a number of items to follow through during the evening - the re-election of Rattle as Speaker and the allowing of a confidence vote in Prime Minister Henry Puna, which passed narrowly.
On Monday, former Clerk Tupuna Rakanui added his voice to the chorus in challenging a number of decisions made during the evening, with pointed remarks for the procedure undertaken to re-elect Rattle.
“In essence, the election of the Speaker is constitutionally null and void!” he wrote.
“... Parliament is the highest Court of the Land and must function and be seen to perform accordingly.”
“Below standard, Parliament is subject to ridicule and disrepute by the members of the public particularly by those equipped with the knowhow of the finer procedural and legalistic arts of Parliament.”
During the sitting, Rasmussen added; “business was being pushed through ... I think they overlooked the procedures and the standing orders.”
Yesterday, One Cook Islands Leader Teina Bishop said a historical precedent exists for the courts to become involved in Parliamentary business.
Bishop cited a case, occurring well over a decade ago, where the High Court ruled government acted unconstitutionally to remove former Speaker Ngereteina Puna.
The incident was reported by CINews in early 2001.
“This was a case where parliament was challenged by the courts, and parliament was overruled,” he said.
Bishop – along with Tupapa-Maraerenga MP George Maggie – abstained from the confidence vote in Puna, which he has described as “illegal”.

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