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New MPs get the nod: Committees established

Thursday 23 March 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in National, Politics

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New MPs get the nod:  Committees established
The 24 Members of Parliament with Speaker Tai Tura pose after day one of Parliament yesterday. Picture: MELINA ETCHES/23032125

Parliamentary committees were established on day two of sitting with several new faces on board.

Prime Minister Mark Brown, the leader of the governing Cook Islands Party, nominated some of his new MPs in the various Parliamentary committees that were established yesterday.

There are 12 Cook Islands Party members, and three independent MPs, in the coalition government. Ngatangiia MP Tukaka Ama, Titikaveka MP Sonny Williams and Vaipae-Tautu MP Tai Herman are CIP’s new MPs alongside Independent MP Stephen Matapo of Mauke.

PM Brown said: “This team is good. We’ve got 15 on our side, that’s a rugby team, so there are a lot of members we can lean on.”

We have put a number of our new MPs into the committees to take the load off those members of our team who already have responsibility as Ministers and Associate Ministers. Our intention is to ensure we utilise all of our members in key positions.”

In the Public Accounts Committee, which oversees matters to do with finance, Sonny Williams and Tai Herman (Cook Islands Party), and Robert Heather, of the opposition Cook Islands United Party, are the new members.

They are joined by Tingika Elikana (CIP, chairman), Tina Browne (leader of the Opposition, Cook Islands Democratic Party), Vaitoti Tupa (Cook Islands Democratic) and Te-Hani Brown (Independent).

In the Bills, Petitions and Papers Committee, Heather is joined by fellow new MPs Stephen Matapo (Independent), Ama (CIP), and Herman (CIP). The other members are Browne, Akaiti Puna (CIP, chairperson) and Wesley Kareoroa (Democratic Party).

The Committee’s role is to scrutinise and review any Bill, petition, report or other matter referred to it by the Parliament.

In the Business Committee, which determines the business to be considered by Parliament each sitting day, United Party’s Heather is the sole new member. The committee is chaired by Speaker of the House Tai Tura, and also features Elikana, Browne, Vaine Mokoroa (Cook Islands Party), Rose Brown (Independent) and Tetangi Matapo (Cook Islands Democratic).

The Privileges Committee features Matapo and Heather as the new members, while Elikana is chairman. Other members of the committee include PM Brown, Puna, Vaitoti Tupa and Agnes Armstrong of the Cook Islands Democratic Party.

The Privileges Committee is responsible for the oversight of processes dealing with the rights and privileges of Members of Parliament, which considers breaches of privilege that may be committed by any person.

In the Standing Orders Committee, Speaker Tura, who is the chairperson, is joined by Deputy Speaker Elikana. United Party’s Heather is the sole new member, with the other members being Browne, PM Brown and Vaine Mac Mokoroa (CIP).

The functions of the Standing Orders Committee are to:

  • at least once in every term of Parliament review the Standing Orders, procedures, and practices of the Parliament:
  • consider and report to the Parliament on any matter relating to the Standing Orders, procedures, and practices of the Parliament:
  • recommend to the House the amendment, revocation, or addition of any Standing Order or the alteration of any procedure or practice of the Parliament:
  • consider and report to the Parliament on any matter referred by the Parliament or otherwise under the Standing Orders.

The Parliament was adjourned until 1pm today when it will resume for the Address in Reply debate and maiden speeches from the new MPs.