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Select committee receives three submissions on Amendment Bills

Monday 19 February 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in National, Parliament


Select committee receives three submissions on Amendment Bills
Parliament of the Cook Islands. Photo: SUPPLIED 23090623

The Special Select Committee reviewing the three Constitutional Amendment Bills before Parliament has received three submissions.

Parliament Select Committees secretary Margret Numanga says the Committee held its inaugural meeting on Friday, February 2, and received three written submissions for their review and consideration and report to Parliament.

Numanga said she would advise the Committee programme and details regarding planned Vaka and Pa Enua consultations once they come to hand.

The three Constitutional Amendment Bills were presented to Parliament in the last sitting of 2023 in December and were referred to a Special Select Committee for review and consideration.

The committee consists of Foreign Affairs Minister Tingika Elikana as chair and Opposition leader Tina Browne of the Democratic Party as deputy chair. The other members of the committee are Cook Islands United Party leader Teariki Heather, One Cook Islands’ Toanui Isamaela, Democratic Party’s Agnes Armstrong and Government MPs Te Hani Brown and Tereapii Maki Kavana.

In December 2023, Parliament invited expressions of interest from anyone or organisations to make submissions to the Committee in regards to the three Bills.

The Constitution Amendment (No. 30) Bill proposes increasing the number of Cabinet Ministers and removing the ability to appoint a non-MP Minister. The Constitution Amendment (No. 32) Bill provides for the ability for MPs to hold a proxy vote for a fellow MP, and Amendment (No. 31) Bill will allow a new Parliament to commence its work after a general election without waiting for the outcome of any election petitions.

Opposition Democratic Party leader Browne had earlier expressed reservations about the proposed increase in the number of ministers but acknowledged that removing the ability to appoint non-MP ministers is a step toward greater accountability.

“However, our concern lies in the lack of justification for the expanded ministerial positions and the associated increase in spending. It is imperative that we conduct a comprehensive analysis of the current Ministers and their portfolios to ensure efficiency and optimal resource utilisation,” Browne earlier said.