Votes for absentee politicians

Thursday 24 October 2019 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Politics


Proxy votes are licence for MPs’ overseas travel, say Demos.

MPs are set to allow proxy votes in Parliament, so they don’t have to turn up in person.

The rule change, debated in standing orders committee, would allow MPs views to be counted, even if they’re away from Cook Islands.

There must be a quorum maintained in order for the session to proceed.

Government argues that the proxy system would allow Parliament to sit more often, because not every MP would have to be there.

However, the Opposition Democratic Party opposes the move, saying Parliament in Cook Islands sits barely three or four weeks a year.

“MPs are elected by the constituencies to represent them in Parliament not to delegate that right to someone else,” said Demos leader Tina Browne, in her response to suggestion for proxy vote system.

“If we are to adopt a calendar of sittings for the year MPs can arrange their commitments around the calendar. MPs must prioritise their various responsibilities throughout the year.”

The New Zealand Parliament allows MPs to designate a proxy who will cast their vote, when they are away from Wellington.

Browne said: “I am aware of this process being adopted by New Zealand and others but not convinced that it would be appropriate for us.”

The New Zealand Parliament sits 30 weeks of the year, she argued, compared to barely three or four sitting weeks in Cook Islands.

Government needed to increase the sitting days per year first, she argued, before they could start justifying a proxy system.

“Are we seriously thinking of allowing MPs to not attend at all because they have chosen to be overseas?”