PM to nominate Speaker

Friday September 14, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Former Speaker Niki Rattle is widely expected to be reappointed to the post. 1809131 Former Speaker Niki Rattle is widely expected to be reappointed to the post. 1809131

Prime minister Henry Puna will nominate the Speaker when the first session of the Parliament since the 2018 general election takes place on Wednesday next week from 1pm.

 

Acting Clerk of Parliament Helen Maunga, who will chair the opening session, said as per the constitution, the prime minister is the only person with the power to nominate the Speaker.

It is widely believed that Niki Rattle, who served as Speaker during the last government term, will get again the nod for the top job.

Following the nomination, the newly-elected Speaker will take the Oath of Allegiance before Queen’s Representative Tom Marsters at Government House in Titikaveka.

“When the newly-elected Speaker returns, all the MPs will be sworn in and following that will be the election of the deputy speaker. That’s the business for the day,” Maunga said.

On Thursday, the ceremonial opening of the parliament will take place at the National Auditorium from 10am.

The highlight of this ceremony will be the “message from the throne”, expected to be presented by PM Puna. The speech will highlight the government’s agenda and focus for the forthcoming session.

Maunga said a meeting would be held in parliament with key government agencies today to discuss how they can work together in hosting the ceremonial opening. The meeting, which is open to all agencies, will start at 11am in the parliamentary chamber.

“Because of budget constraints and to keep the cost down as much as possible, we will seek help from different agencies who will be playing various roles at the ceremony,” she said.

“We will also request Ministry of Education if they can allow students to attend this ceremony, because it’s a good exposure for them. (It will) give them a firsthand experience of what goes on before the opening of Parliament.”

The ceremony will be live streamed and Maunga is hoping the event gets a wide media coverage.

Following the ceremony, the MPs will return to Parliament where business will resume as normal from 1pm.

One of the key agenda of the upcoming session will be the tabling of the 2018/19 budget.

“I haven’t been informed when the budget will be tabled but obviously the budget will be a priority over everything else at this sitting,” Maunga said.

The Cook Islands Party (CIP), which has formed government in the past two terms will retain power for the third consecutive term after gaining the support of three MPs following the June 14 election.

After gaining 10 seats, the CIP was able to entice the two independent and One Cook Islands MPs to join them to command a majority and form a government.

The Democratic Party, which had the upper hand after the election with 11 seats, was unable to win those holding the balance of power to their side.

The party filed four petitions for the seats won by CIP but these were all unsuccessful. The other two petitions – one each from CIP and One Cook Islands party, also proved futile.

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