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Speaker’s nomination challenged

Wednesday October 29, 2014 Written by Published in Politics
Parliamentary Speaker Niki Rattle. 14100829 Parliamentary Speaker Niki Rattle. 14100829

After a two week break, Parliament resumed yesterday to pick up exactly where it left off – the Opposition questioning procedures over the nomination of Speaker Niki Rattle to second term.

Rattle began the session with an ode to the late Papa Nga Valoa – a former Clerk of the Cook Islands Parliament.
Rattle said Papa Nga served with “Great distinction and great humility in embracing all MP’s who have come into the House.”
“Papa Nga treated Parliament like his family, and he loved the people he worked with,” she said. “Hopefully we will be able to carry through the great work this man has done in nurturing the leaders of this nation.”
Rattle also paid respects to the recent passing of the late Parliamentary translator Bobby Turua and William Ferdinand Shija - former Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Also during her opening remarks, Rattle spoke on her election as Speaker on October 8 – a topic that has attracted controversy and the scrutiny of two former Parliamentary clerks.
She said she sought and received advice from Crown Law – which advised that her appointment was in accordance with the nation’s constitution and Parliamentary standing orders.
“I know that much has been said in the media, but I want to say that the procedures of Parliament are to be decided in Parliament ... This will be the end of this concern,” she said.
Despite the Speaker’s comments, the Opposition wasted no time in questioning the Government over the matter.
Multiple waves of questioning over the matter were made by Ngatangiia MP Tamaiva Tuavera and Murienua MP James Beer of the Democratic Party.
The attack prompted Prime Minister Henry Puna to lash out at the Demos, saying to Rattle: “I am sick of listening to these silly questions from the opposition about your election as Speaker.”
The matter was left with Beer asking Parliament to address what the PM described as “...contrary provisions in the Constitution” that deal with the election of a Speaker.
The day’s business continued with debate on the Arbitration Amendment bill, tabled by Cabinet Minister Mona Ioane.
Ioane said the bill was introduced to “ensure that the Cook Islands has the necessary framework to compete in the global marketplace.”
He added the bill will play a role in resolving issues over inter-government, agreements, contracts between companies, and employee contracts by providing alternative means to resolving disputes other than the Courts, “which can be cost and time consuming,”
The bill received support from all three factions of the House: CIP, Demo, and One Cook Islands.

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