14 Nov 2002

Cooks select committee begins work on political reforms

12:38 pm on 14 November 2002

The Cook Islands coalition government has appointed a select committee to look into political reforms for the country.

The Committee was scheduled to begin its work today

It was set up a day after reformists marched on Parliament to present concerns over the failure of respective administrations to implement several major reforms.

Our correspondent in Rarotonga, Florence Syme-Buchanan says these include a reduction in the number of MPs from the current 25, abolishing the overseas seat and terminating the controversial MPs superannuation fund because it is unsustainable.

"The fourth change being sought, reducing the present five year term of parliament to three or four years, will require two-thirds support in a national referendum. Prime Minister, Dr Robert Woonton, has promised a referendum on that issue in an early election next year Chaired by Dr Woonton, this select committee on political reform will adjourn after today to receive public submissions over the next two weeks. Deputy prime minister, Sir Geoffrey Henry, said in parliament yesterday that due process has to be followed before constitutional changes can be made to effect the reforms. The coalition government has come under intense pressure in recent weeks to implement changes to the current political system."