Their candidate Nandi Glassie lost at the polls in 2018, then lost the by-election in March, then lost a High Court petition. Now he is trying one more time – even though the candidate who beat him has already quit.
Te-Hani Brown resigned from Parliament after the challenge was lodged against her win in the March by-election.
Glassie alleged her electoral agents committed bribery, after Te-Hani’s father Taoro Brown paid for a $5930 chartered flight to carry senior government ministers to Atiu to speak at her rally.
Chief Justice Sir Hugh Williams dismissed Glassie’s petition, saying there was no clear evidence to substantiate the claims made by Glassie that Taoro Brown was acting on his daughter’s behalf or with her knowledge.
The Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua community now faces a third, costly outing to the polling booth in little more than a year – unless Glassie can persuade the appeal judge to declare him the MP.
Today is the last day for filing an appeal in the Atiu petition and the decision has been made to file an appeal to change the result of the Atiu election.
Opposition Leader Tina Browne said once the appeal was filed, a meeting would be held with the lawyers to decide when it would be heard.
“There is a Court of Appeal in November, it may be that they will have to fit this appeal in their schedule if it’s not full already,” said Browne.
Browne said she couldn’t be confident they would win, but they had been given advice to proceed with an appeal against the High Court decision regardless.
“Clearly the advice that we have been given is that the decision was not correct, you can only appeal if you are unhappy with a decision and whether or not the Court of Appeal will agree with us in saying that the decision was wrong,” said Browne. “It’s for them to decide.”
“What we are going to be claiming is that the court may have incorrectly applied the law to the facts.”
Te-Hani, who initially won the seat under the Democratic Party banner in last year’s general election, resigned and stood as an Independent so that she could join the Cook Islands Party-led coalition government.
Chief electoral officer Taggy Tangimetua earlier said if no appeal was filed, the seat would be declared vacant and the by-election process would commence; if the appeal is successful it will avoid a by-election and declare Nandi Glassie to represent the Atiu electorate.