27 Mar 2015

Accusations of setup after Cook Islands defection

8:18 pm on 27 March 2015

The leader of the opposition Cook Islands Democratic Party says a recent move by one of his MPs to cross over and join the ruling Cook Islands Party is a setup by the Prime Minister and a blatant disregard for the rules.

Wilkie Rasmussen says Albert Nicholas' move brings the government's numbers up to 12 in the 24 seat house, but he cannot vote on the budget and may well lose his seat.

Mr Rasmussen says Mr Nicholas could either lose his seat through breaches of anti-party provisions or turning him against his constituency.

He says Mr Nicholas is a young, naive first-time MP and he was counselled not to cross over.

"But he chose in this instance to go. I think he's motivated by ambition of course. And by the fact that the Prime Minister had openly offered him a Ministerial position, which is something very valuable and politicians will be inevitably temped by it. But in disregard of the laws that were passed by our own Parliament."