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Political reform on the agenda if Cooks PM is re-elected

22 May 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Lisa Williams-Lahari -

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna has confirmed he will back moves for political reform in the country if he is voted in for a third term next month.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna. Photo/ PMN.

Puna, the Cook Islands Party candidate for Manihiki and its current sitting MP, has previously avoided action on proposed political reforms in a document called the Purple Book, prepared almost 20 years ago and then ignored by successive Cook Islands governments.

Mindful of how times have changed, Puna says he's keen to bring balance back to the number of constituents each member of parliament serves.

MPs are all paid the same salary, whether they will serve in Tamarua or Mangaia, which has a voter population in 2018 of 55, or in the Cook's most populated electorate, Tupapa-Maraerenga on Rarotonga, where there are 1,193 voters and single MP for that constituency.

Closer in geography to the capital of Samoa than the capital of the Cook Islands, Pukapuka/Nassau's 277 voters are served by just one MP.

Meanwhile Mangaia, with roughly the same voter population has three MPs, and its neighbour Atiu with 241 voters has two.

While reforming the electoral boundaries based on population rather than history may lead to cuts in the number of seats in Parliament, Puna says it's not about saving money.

"It doesn't look good or fair or right that you have big constituencies or islands like Aitutaki and Mangaia have three seats and Atiu, who has the same number as Mangaia, has two seats. Some adjustments have to be made."

The Cook Islands general elections will be held on June 14 (June 15 NZT).

Tags: Cook Islands,