24 Jan 2019

Cooks govt challenged to call parliament

5:08 pm on 24 January 2019

The leader of the opposition in the Cook Islands has challenged the government to call parliament and test their claim that an opposition MP will cross the floor.

Cook Islands Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne

Cook Islands Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne Photo: Cook Islands Democratic Party

The Cook Islands is facing a hung parliament after a by-election on Monday.

The Democratic Party's Tina Browne made the call to the ruling Cook Islands Party following reports that the MP for Tengatangi-Areora-Ngatiarua had sided with the government.

Ms Browne said she had been in contact with the MP Tehani Brown and been assured of her full support.

The Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown earlier told local media the MP had considered the move in the interests of the country's stability.

However, Tina Brown said her MP's support for the Cook Islands Party extended only as far as government projects going ahead in her constituency.

"It's far different from what Mark Brown is saying, that she is going to cross the floor," Ms Brown said.

She said Mark Brown was using government projects for political leverage.

"The suggestion is that unless members of parliament cross the floor and support government, projects in their constituencies - whether they're Cook Islanders, whether they're tax payers - will not go ahead."

Provisional results for the Ivirua by-election indicated a win for the Democratic Party's Agnes Armstrong and 12 seats each for the Democratic Party and the coalition led by the Cook Islands Party.

The hung parliament would be broken by an MP switching allegiance.

The claim of floor crossing, according to Tina Brown, could only be tested in parliament.

"So call parliament," she said.

"Let's see what happens!"

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