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Two strikes but not out for petition

Saturday 4 July 2020 | Written by Katrina Lintonbon | Published in Local


Two strikes but not out for petition
Te Vai Ora Maori members Justine Flanagan, right, and Imogen Ingram with their petition outside Parliament. 20061708

Te Vai Ora Maori water lobby group does not accept the Speaker’s decision to reject their petition.

Parliament’s Speaker Niki Rattle has ruled the Anti-Chemical Treatment of the Water Supply of Rarotonga petition out of order as Parliament does not have power to issue an injunction against treating the water with chemicals.

The Speaker said she had taken advice on standing orders; if the petition was in order it would be referred to a select committee. But it was not in order.

“The first prayer of relief is for Parliament to cease immediately any action to use chemicals to treat the water of Rarotonga,” she said.

“This is asking Parliament to issue an injunction. Accordingly, the petition will not be received by Parliament and will not be referred to Select Committee.”

Te Vai Ora acting chair Justine Flanagan said the Speaker's interpretation was incorrect. “Cease”, she said, was simply a formal way of saying “stop”.

The prayer does not ask Parliament to “issue an injunction”, Flanagan said. Parliament is not the court. “For a person to obtain an injunction order they must have a legal right that has been violated,” she said.

“Petitioners have no legal right for the Court to uphold. The prayer is not a private application seeking a Court order. A prayer is a public request presented to Parliament for consideration by a select committee.”

The petition, which was signed by 1433 people around Rarotonga, questions chemical treatment of the water supply and opposes water rates.

Through the petition, Flanagan also said the people of Rarotonga requested a stop to Te Mato Vai Project – the project’s construction and commissioning had already resulted in environmental degradation, she said.

“It is not for the Speaker, but for the select committee to respond to this request,” she said.

“The petitioners do not accept the Speaker's announcement, and call the members of Parliament to ensure that democratic rights are respected. It remains for the Speaker to appoint a select committee to consider the water petition.”