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Western Australia gifts symbolic tables to Cook Islands Parliament

Tuesday 20 February 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Australia, National, Parliament, Regional


Western Australia gifts symbolic tables to Cook Islands Parliament
The Parliament of Western Australia delegation at Cook Islands Parliament. From left: Sam Hastings - Clerk of the Legislative Council of Western Australia, Dr Steve Thomas MLC (Member of the Legislative Council - Upper House) - Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council, Lorna Harper MLC - Member of the Legislative Council, Alanna Clohesy MLC - President of the Legislative Council, Michelle Roberts MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) - Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Margaret Quirk MLA - Member of the Legislative Assembly, Scott Nalder - Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia. MELINA ETCHES/24021906

The two “Table of the House” tables gifted by the Parliament of Western Australia (WA) were officially handed over to Cook Islands Parliament yesterday morning.

The centrepiece tables, constructed from the unique and symbolic Jarrah tree of Western Australia, now sit grandly in Parliament House, just in time for Parliament’s first sitting of the year at 10am.

A delegation from both the Western Australian Legislative Council (Upper House) and Legislative Assembly, who are visiting Rarotonga, attended the ceremony, alongside Cook Islands Members of Parliament and Parliamentary staff.

The Cook Islands and Western Australian Parliaments are “twinned” through the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s (CPA) twinning programme between the CPA Australia and CPA Pacific Regions. This formal arrangement, established in 2007, fosters greater cooperation and support between Australian and Pacific parliaments.

Tangata Vainerere, Clerk of Parliament and staff, received the WA delegation upon their arrival last Friday.

In 2019, while observing parliamentary proceedings in WA, Vainerere requested two “retired” tables as a symbol of the relationship between the two countries.

“They decided to build us brand new ones,” said Vainerere. Five years later, the “Table of the House” or Chamber Tables were finally presented.

Vainerere highlighted the Parliament of Western Australia’s ongoing support, including attachment programmes, training opportunities, and additional assistance to the Cook Islands.

“I’m excited and happy, the idea was to have a physical representation of our relationship with our MPs, Speakers and staff,” he said Vainerere.

Michelle Hopkins Roberts, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and Alanna Therese Clohesy, President of the Legislative Council, led the visiting delegation for the presentation.

Both women presented a commemorative plaque to Speaker of Cook Islands Parliament Tai Tura marking the occasion.

In her remarks, Roberts said: “We are so pleased to finally be able to present the tables and we are very honoured to have a piece of Western Australia here in the Cook Islands Parliament taking centre stage.”

“This is part of a long-term relationship, many former speakers, former presidents and parliamentary delegations from Western Australia have been to the Cook Islands back since 2007.”

She mentioned hosting Speaker Tura in September 2023 and welcoming numerous delegations from the Cook Islands for training opportunities.

“We are deeply moved by the hospitality and truly struck by the beauty of the Cook Islands,” said Roberts.

Clohesy echoed the sentiment, describing the island as “absolutely beautiful and wonderful” and expressing her appreciation for the friendship and warm hospitality extended by the people of the Cook Islands.

“We could not have asked for a better welcome,” she said.

Each member of the WA delegation received the privilege of unveiling a hand-painted and crafted veil. The Table of the House was blessed by Parliamentary Pastor, Reverend Teava Nanai.

The delegation is scheduled to depart Rarotonga tomorrow.

The Representatives of the Legislative Council (Upper House), and the Legislative Assembly (Lower House) from the Parliament of Western Australia are: Hon. Alanna Therese Clohesy - President of the Legislative Council - Head of the delegation; Hon. Michelle Hopkins Roberts - Speaker of the Legislative Assembly – Head of Delegation; Hon. Dr Steven Caldwell Thomas Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council; Hon. Lorna Harper Member of Parliament; Margaret Mary Quirk Acting Speaker in the Legislative Assembly; Sam Hastings Clerk of the Legislative Council; Scott Nalder Deputy Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.