12 Jun 2002

2,000 Cook Islanders sign petition against bill

4:27 pm on 12 June 2002

More than 2,000 people are reported to have signed a petition in the Cook Islands against the controversial Environment bill.

Mona Matepi says they will present the petition and their submissions to the parliamentary select committee which is reviewing the bill this Friday.

She says there continues to be concern over the sweeping powers that the bill gives to the Minister for environment, Norman George.

Ms Matepi says the Environment Service has been unable to reassure people over this.

"They're saying that the minister is guided by the experts in environment services. Well I disagree.I think it's naive to expect the people to believe that because we all know how a person can take power and mis-use it. The bill has the potential for abusive of power."

Mona Matepi

But, a senior environment officer at the Environment Service, Tauraki Rae, says the minister will not have too much power with this bill.

The only time the minister comes into the picture is if someone appeals the decision of the council. He can go to the minister, but the minister don't make the decision. The minister can direct the council to re-consider, but it's never indicated that the minister can over-ride the decisions of the council.