16 Jun 2006

Cook Islands Parliament sits for first time in eight months

10:18 am on 16 June 2006

The Cook Islands government has delayed debate on the budget as it gets ready for the first parliament sitting in eight months.

Instead government MPs say they will focus on removing the Speaker who was elected to an outer island seat last week.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Terepai Maoate said that government was entitled to nominate a speaker who held the confidence of a majority in parliament.

Cabinet is said to have asked the Solicitor General Janet Maki and Clark of Parliament Nga Valoa for procedural advice on electing a new speaker.

If replaced, the house would elect the seventh speaker since self-government in 1965 - and the third since 1999.

And despite the long wait between sessions, Opposition leader Sir Geoffrey Henry attacked the decision to hold a sitting without the budget being ready as ridiculous.