1 Sep 2020

Cook Islands Opposition calls for Agriculture Bill rethink

3:25 pm on 1 September 2020

The Cook Islands opposition says the 2020 Agriculture Bill is flawed and needs a complete rethink.

A tractor on a farm in the Pacific

A tractor on a farm in Rarotonga Photo: 123RF

The legislation came up for public consultation last week.

Opposition leader Tina Browne said the bill didn't lay out ways to grow primary industries to help the Cook Islands become less reliant on tourism.

Community concern over the bill related to its focus on data collection, and the role of data collectors, inspectors and their role, as well as offences and fines.

Browne said data collectors would have enormous power, while the bill sought to control the civil liberties of the people

She said there was no mention of promoting organic agriculture, boosting livestock farming and ways to maximise the agriculture industry's contribution to national revenue.

Browne said instead the government should emphasise diversification, starting with an update of the Pesticides Act to ensure it met international standards and trends.

Cook Islands Democratic Party leader, Tina Browne

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