27 Jun 2003

Cook Islands MP may lose seat over pay rules

4:23 pm on 27 June 2003

Another Cook Islands member of parliament, Norman George, could lose his seat following today's audit report questioning payment rules.

Mr George, who is a former deputy prime minister, is being paid as a government agency consultant while also receiving his pay as an MP.

Last year, a similar case prompted the high court to declare the Penrhyn seat vacant - a seat held by Tepure Tapaitau.

Florence Syme-Buchanan reports.

"In the Cook Islands an MP's seat is declared vacant if he becomes a crown servant by way of receiving a salary from the crown. In it's report tabled in parliament the audit office recommended that the attorney general gets a legal opinion from crown law to seek a declaratory judgment from the high court as to whether Mr George's' seat has become vacant. Audit author recommends that the solicitor general gets a legal opinion for the recovery of all money paid to Mr George since December last year. Audit also urges the attorney general to take appropriate action similar to Tepure Tapaitau's' case"