Money for nothing: Absentee MP paid $10,000

Saturday July 20, 2019 Written by Published in Politics
Stay-at-home MP Te-Hani Brown paid nearly $10,000, like it or not. 18050110 Stay-at-home MP Te-Hani Brown paid nearly $10,000, like it or not. 18050110

Te-Hani Brown is still being paid the salary of a MP – and even pocketing the 45 per cent pay rise – even though she is not allowed to go to work.

Brown is yet to be sworn in as a Parliamentarian after her by-election win in March this year was legally challenged by the losing candidate. That means she’s not allowed to sit in Parliament.

She had won back the Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua seat on Atiu as an independent candidate, beating the Demos’ Nandi Glassie.

But Glassie filed a petition alleging bribery, which led to Brown resigning from the seat. Her resignation was put on a hold by the Court pending the Glassie’s electoral petition hearing.

Clerk of Parliament Tangata Vainerere has confirmed Brown is still being paid an MP’s salary.

“The resignation by Ms Brown was put on hold by the Court. In this regard, existing regulations provide for payment of her salary to continue until a decision is delivered by the Court on the court action taken against her,” Vainerere said.

“She can’t attend Parliament as she couldn’t be sworn in at the last Parliament sitting because of the Court decision.”

Brown is thought to be in the Cooks about her whereabouts and what she is doing with the money are unknown, as she did not return calls and emails this week.

Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams, who presided over the petition matter in May, has reserved his decision, saying it will be delivered in writing at a later date.

If the petition is dismissed, Crown Law has told the court it will then take note of Brown’s resignation letter.

If the petition is allowed, then Crown Law says petitioner Glassie will not automatically win the seat; there would be further debate over whether he is awarded the seat or whether a new by-election takes place.

The 23-year-old Brown initially won the seat under the Democratic Party banner in the 2018 general election beating Glassie, who then stood for the governing Cook Islands Party.

Earlier this year, Brown defected to the government to join her mother and Health minister Rose Toki-Brown, and resigned her electorate.

This led to the March by-election in which she claimed victory again against Glassie – who this time stood for the Democratic Party.

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