16 Jul 2003

Cook Islands opposition MP says action needed on declaratory judgement

11:20 am on 16 July 2003

An MP in the opposition Cook Islands Party says he is rewriting the country's electoral act to set a deadline in declaring when a seat becomes vacant.

Penryhn MP, Wilkie Rasmussen says the Act needs to be more specific as to when a seat is declared vacant and when a by election should be held.

Mr Rasmussen says the act's current wording states that a by-election should be held forthwith.

This comes as the Attorney General, Dr Terepai Moate is yet to apply to the High Court for a ruling on whether or not the seats of Norman George and Paora Teiti are vacant.

Mr Rasmussen says this issue must be resolved immediately.

"There is a new Electoral Act being drafted. That sets a time frame, which means its a thirty day period from the date that the seat is declared vacant and a by-election has to be called. The government, under the current law, could sit on it and not call for a by-election unitl next year."

Wilkie Rasmussen

The Cooks Islands National Party leader Teariki Heather says he will file an application if Dr Terepai Moate doesn't.

The seats of Mr George and Mr Teiti came into question after the Audit Office found both had been paid two salaries by the government.