It will be another three months before two select committees will present their reports and recommendations to Parliament in relation to the Crimes Bill 2019 and the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill 2020.
Expected to be tabled yesterday, after Parliament adjourned on Wednesday last week, both select committee chairs requested three-month extensions.
Crimes Bill select committee chairman Tingika Elikana asked for a deferral of three months which was seconded by Opposition MP Selina Napa, who is a member of the committee.
In the lead up to this much anticipated Parliament sitting, local LGBTQ+ group Te Tiare Association, spearheaded by Pride Cook Islands, have campaigned for decriminalisation of same-sex relations and to be treated as equal citizens and not as “criminals”.
Around Rarotonga yesterday rainbow flags flew in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
Te Tiare Association president Valery Wichman yesterday said they were hoping for recommendations at this Parliament sitting but will work towards the next three months for the next sitting.
Pride Cook Islands supporter Dr Debi Futter-Puati didn’t hold back her disappointment on the deferral of the Crimes Bill select committee recommendations.
“After two select committees spending what now amounts to years, consulting with communities across the country not once but twice and they still cannot table their recommendations,” Futter-Puati said.
“This has been going on for years and needs to be settled once and for all so we are not left in limbo yet again.”
The To Tatou Vai Bill Select Committee 2020 was established by Parliament in July this year to review and consider the To Tatou Vai Bill 2020 and was expected to report its recommendations to Parliament by September 30.
However, yesterday, the select committee’s chairperson and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown moved a motion to have the Bill extended for another three months. This was seconded by MP Tingika Elikana.
Justine Matatoa Flanagan, the acting chair of the local lobby group Te Vai Ora Maori, said the extension of the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill 2020 will allow for the drafting of a bill that would better serve the people.
Flanagan said given how unpopular the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill has become, it is astute for the chair of the select committee to seek an extension.
“This time will allow for the drafting of a bill that will better serve the people,” she said.
In August this year landowners of all 10 water intakes around Rarotonga, the Growers Committee and Te Vai Ora Maori presented their submissions to the select committee in Parliament.
Flanagan had said although each group had their own concerns with the Bill (specific to who they represented), the message from all three groups was consistent - that the Bill must be redrafted and water must be "free".
She said for the landowners, the Bill presumes an agreement that has not been reached. For the Growers Association - charges for water will impact food security, cost of living, viability of businesses/income and limit diversity. And for Te Vai Ora Maori, the supply of water is a public service that should be provided through general taxation.
A similar sentiment was shared by the Koutu Nui O Te Kuki Airani who in their submissions to the select committee this month called on Parliament to postpone the Bill until it is acceptable to the landowners.
Yesterday, Koutu Nui president Terea Mataiapo Paul Allsworth said: “This (the deferment) is good news for the Koutu Nui albeit a three-months delay.”
Allsworth said the Bill will be discussed at the Koutu Nui Annual General Meeting tomorrow from 9am-4pm at the Crown Beach Resort.