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Leaders drop ball on issue

Wednesday December 23, 2015 Written by Published in Politics

The leaders of the Cook Islands missed the opportunity to put the helmet issue back on the table this week and the Clerk of Parliament is calling for the two major parties to start working together.


The 24 Members of Parliament who appeared to unanimously support a decision to revisit whether helmets should become compulsory failed to put their words into action by formally putting forward a motion to reintroduce the issue.

During Question time on Monday last week, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Albert Nicholas, asked the Leader of the Opposition whether his side of the House would support making a change.

“After a spate of deadly accidents, it is probably about time that this House does something about this issue,” he said in parliament.

Opposition leader William “Smiley” Heather responded by putting forward a motion without notice to set up a select committee to consider the helmet options.

He said a suggestion could be government subsidies on the purchase of helmets.

“What a waste of our young people who are throwing away their lives without thinking,” he said in parliament.

As Minister Nicholas put the suggestion forward, Heather said it would be up to him to put a motion in writing to parliament in order for it to be tabled that day.

However, when CI News asked Deputy Clerk of Parliament Helen Maunga during the sitting, she said she had not been given any motion in writing.

Deputy Opposition leader Tama Tuavera told CI News he was adamant his leader, Heather, had put forward a motion without delay on the issue, which was agreed by all members.

However, Clerk of Parliament John Tangi said there was a process to follow and there should be dialogue between the two major parties about the matter to ensure a mutually-agreed approach was arrived at.

“Members of Parliament should talk amongst themselves rather than using the media to attack each other.”

Some people believe the four deaths on our roads this year and others in previous years are partially the fault of MPs who backed down on making helmets compulsory in 2008.

That year, the government passed legislation to make helmet-wearing compulsory, but it was later defeated following public debate.

Currently anyone driving a motorbike over 40kmph must wear a helmet, though it is widely acknowledged that this rule is almost impossible to enforce.


According to the World Health Organisation, wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can reduce the risk of death in an accident by almost 40 per cent and the risk of severe injury by over 70 per cent.

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