Opposition Party Leader Hon Tina Browne said they will not support the To Tatou Vai Bill

Written by Florence Syme-Buchanan – Opposition Media Release

Cook Islands Opposition leader Tina Browne has said they will not support the passage of the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill through Parliament if it remains in its current form.

“There is no way that the Democratic Party Opposition will support the bill the way it is at present, there are too many flaws and areas of widespread public concern. It really needs to be carefully redrafted with a lot more consideration vested in our culture and traditions. At the moment there are too many contentious areas in the bill and these need to be changed with the interest of our people being kept at the forefront, not the interest of government or the To Tatou Vai Authority,” says Browne.

Leader Browne added that there is no justification on government’s part to give so little time for public and landowners’ consultations and rush the bill through for the next sitting of Parliament in September. “This will have a disastrous result, and we are already seeing the growing public dissatisfaction with the bill – landowners, growers, NGO’s are all speaking out about it. The government needs to have genuine and fair consultations with our people.”

“The bill has significant implications for our people, landowners, growers, our village communities in Rarotonga and Aitutaki – our people need to understand what those implications are and this won’t be possible in three vaka consultations allocating two hours per vaka consultation on Rarotonga.”

“The landowners should have been given the opportunity to meet separately with the Select Committee appointed to hear submissions on the To Tatou Vai Authority Bill and it is very disappointing that this request has been turned down by the Committee chairman DPM Mark Brown. Landowners have significant issues they wish to address and they should rightly have been given every opportunity to do that before the Committee.”