14 Mar 2003

Cook Islands government reform proposals welcomed

12:51 pm on 14 March 2003

Cook Islands political reformists have applauded recent proposals by the government to change the country's political system, by cutting back the number of MPs and reducing the Parliamentary term.

The Government is proposing a new four year parliamentary term, as opposed to the present widely unpopular five years.

A national referendum which gets two thirds support of all voters as well as the support of two thirds of the MPs will be required to change the term.

The Government has also promised to abolish the Tamarua seat in the outer island of Mangaia and the controversial overseas seat, which would reduce the number of seats in Parliament to 23.

Florence Syme -Buchanan reports.

"The government says work has begun on drafting constitutional amendments which it plans to introduce during the first sitting of parliament this year on March 26th. Reformers here are saying the proposed changes must be effected as the Cook Islands people have had enough of empty promises from politicians. Earlier the government also promised to scrap the controversial superannuation fund which has proven to be unsustainable since its introduction and costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain."