25 Sep 2002

Cook Islands opposition leader questions buying of furniture for PM's private residence

10:51 am on 25 September 2002

The Cook Islands opposition leader, Dr Terepai Maoate, says there should be an investigation into the buying of furniture for the private residence of the prime minister.

The PM, Dr Robert Woonton, had threatened to sue the Independent newspaper if it printed a story on whether public money had been used to purchase goods for his home.

Dr Maoate, the previous prime minister, says cabinet can approve the upgrading of a ministerial residence but if it hasn't, questions need to be asked.

"If the allegation is true, then PERCA, the Public Expenditure Review Committee and Auditor, should look at that and investigate. The main thing is that doing something out of the normal is something that PERCA needs to investigate, doesn't matter how small, how big."

The PM's chief executive, Piho Rua, has disclosed that 5,000 dollars was drawn from the civil list entitlements for the purchases which he says was applicable under a housing allowance.