25 Jan 2010

Chair of Cooks political review endorses reduction of seats

7:54 pm on 25 January 2010

The chair of the commission of political review in the Cook Islands says reducing the number of constituencies is a key part of political reform.

The Cook Islands currently has around 10,000 registered voters and 24 seats in parliament.

Iaveta Short, who compiled the 1988 report on reforming the country's political system, has now contributed to a proposal on political reform that's being circulated among MPs for approval, after getting the nod by cabinet.

He says it makes sense to reduce existing constituencies to match the drop in

populations especially on outer islands.

"For example the island of Rakahunga and Manihiki, where I think the last count for Rakahunga is only about 47 voters. If that is combined with Manihiki it would make it around 300. But then you have other possible reductions in the two Atiu seats being reduced to one, because the population in Atiu has dropped. As well as the combining of the Mauke - Mitiaro seat."

He says Magaia's three seats could also be reduced to just one.

Other reforms being proposed includes the Prime Minister being elected by the people, the PM's cabinet requiring parliamentary approval, and a permanent political review commission being established.