An overwhelming majority of people want to reduce the current number of Members of Parliament according to a Cook Islands News poll.
The poll asked one percent of the country’s population, “Should we reduce the number of MPs?”
The results showed 71.7 per cent of people wanted to reduce
the number, 20 per cent said they did not want it reduced, and 8.3 per cent
said they did not know.
Rarotonga was more keen than the outer islands to see the
number reduced, with 75 per cent support. The Pa Enua had 60.7 per cent of
people supporting reducing the number.
Former government minister Iaveta Short, who has been
critical in the past about the country having 24 MPs, said the current system
“It's not a question of reducing
the number of MPs, it's a question of re-allocating it so that it is a democratic
representative of the people,” Short said.
“I think the number one priority
is the re-allocation of seat numbers, of seats, according to population.
“It should be a democratic system;
a democratic system means one vote has the same value for everybody. You can't
tell me a small constituency with less than 100 votes has the same power as a
constituency with over 1000 voters, it doesn't make sense.”
Short said nobody in Parliament
wanted to change the number because it needed “brain work” but said the country
could bring in overseas experts to help the Cook Islands restructure its
“Everybody already understands
what we now have is stupid. What is stupid is doing nothing about it.
“We know generally speaking what
we want and that's every constituency has generally about the same number of
Out of the people who said they wanted the number of seats
reduced, 20 per cent said they wanted it reduced to 12. Another 20 per cent said
they wanted 15 MPs, 16.7 per cent said they wanted 20, and 12.5 per cent said
18. The remaining 2.5 per cent said they wanted either below 12 MPs or they
were not sure how much they wanted it reduced by.
Democratic Party leader Tina Browne said her Party would be
guided by the wishes of the people.
“This would have been an excellent issue to have put to our
people in a referendum staged at the same time as the general elections.”
However, Short disagreed.
“It’s a dumb question, everyone
knows we have to. Why do you need to ask the people when it’s obvious?
“Basically we have a
dysfunctional political system that is extremely costly and the country just
carries the burden.”
Cook Islands News reached out to
Cook Islands Party for comment but did not get a response.