24 Nov 2003

Questions are asked about new environment legislation in the Cook Islands

11:57 am on 24 November 2003

Key agencies in the Cook Islands are looking closely at the country's new Environmental legislation.

Parts of the new act may be in conflict with finance and other laws.

The Director of Audit, Paul Allsworth, confirms his office, as well as the Public Service Commission and Ministry of Finance and Economic Management, have met to discuss the Environment Act.

It was passed after debate was guillotined late at night last week and legislates former Environmental Councillors out of existence.

Environmental powers are instead concentrated into the Service Director, who is hand picked by the minister.

The new act abandons consultation agreements held by the former Environment Minister, Norman George, who had been authorised to receive a consultancy fee of nearly thirty thousand US dollars a year.

Mr Allsworth says all spending can be approved by the Director instead of the Council as required under the old act, and maybe in conflict with existing regulations