7 Jul 2011

Cook Islands govt defends money spent on parliament opening

6:46 am on 7 July 2011

The Cook Islands government has rejected opposition claims that the money it spent on a ceremonial opening of parliament was a waste.

The Cook Islands Party, which took power late last year, opened parliament with a traditional ceremony to which 1200 people were invited.

The opposition Democratic Party has called it extravagant.

MP and former cabinet minister, Wilkie Rasmussen, says a prayer is all that was needed.

But the prime minister, Henry Puna, dismissed the criticism and says in 2007 the Democrats had spent twice this amount on its own parliamentary opening ceremony.