15th February, 2013
COOK ISLANDS NEWS — Members of parliament came together for the first time this year when the House reconvened at 1pm yesterday afternoon.
The 9th meeting of the 47th session of parliament is scheduled for 11 days this month, with members sitting every working day – with the exception of today – until February 28 unless all business finishes before then.
The country’s newest MP – the Democratic member for Tamarua, Tetangi Matapo – will be sworn in by ceremony on Monday. No petition of protest was filed by the Cook Islands Party candidate Tokorua Pareina, who had seven days to file a petition after the final vote count was released in the close contest.
Prime Minister Henry Puna, cabinet ministers, caucus and the rest of the Cook Islands Party have extended their congratulations to Matapo.
Puna said through a statement the party and government respect the wishes of the people of Tamarua in their democratic choice for an MP.
“Government will continue to support Mangaia and the programme of development for the outer islands will continue as planned.”
Once sworn in, Matapo will be the third female MP in the House.
Another change in parliament is the new clerk – Tupuna Rakanui, who replaced long-serving Nga Valoa. Rakanui was welcomed into his new role by Speaker of the House Nikki Rattle.
The top legislative priority for the next week of sitting is the Island Governance Bill, which affects the outer islands.
It was tabled during the last parliament sitting in November although members ran out of time to debate it.
Yesterday it went through its second reading.
The Companies Amendment Bill 2013 was tabled yesterday and went through its first reading.
Six papers are due to be tabled this meeting – the Employment Relations (Government Funded Paid Maternity Leave Scheme) Regulations 2012, the Income Tax (Exemption of Non-resident Aircraft Operators) Order 2012, Marine Resources (Shark Conservation) Regulations 2012, Customs Tariff (Concessions) Order 2012, Entry, Resident and Departure Regulations 2012, and the second quarter Audit Office report.
Rattle told the House an important date they must diary for the sitting is February 25 – when parliamentarians meet in the morning to discuss the HIV Bill, and then attend an educational session on the Official Information Act.
by Calida Smylie, Cook Islands News – Fri, 15 Feb 2013