2 Jul 2008

New MP in Niue turns down new job offer

9:08 am on 2 July 2008

One of Niue's new members of Parliament, Ester Pavihi, has turned down the position of associate minister for the environment.

Ms Pavihi, who won one of the six common role seats in last month's elections, says she turned down the position because there is no provision for associate ministers in the nation's constitution.

"It would be against my better judgement to discard my principles to take up a position that I feel has no legal basis."

Mr Pavihi says the constitution needs to be amended to allow for associate ministers and possibly even an increase in the size of cabinet - currently limited to just four ministers.

She says an offer by Niue's new premier, Toki Talagi, to take a $20,000 pay cut to fund the associate minister positions was extremely generous but failed to address the issue of whether the positions were allowed for under the constitution.

I think by declining the position would start the ball rolling on actually amending the constitution so that these functions of cabinet are made legal.

Ms Pavihi says the size of Niue's assembly also needs to be reviewed. Twenty assembly members for a population of under 2000 may be too many.

She says Niueans have responded positively to her stand.