MP lets down Cook Island community

The Cook Island community has been let down by National List MP Alfred Ngaro’s decision not to support a proposal that would have removed a restrictive residency requirement, Labour says.

An amendment to the Social Assistance (Portability to Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau) Bill, put up and supported by Opposition parties, aimed to remove the residency requirement of five years after the age of 50 years.  

Social Services committee member Carmel Sepuloni said it was consistent with New Zealand’s arrangements with several other countries, including Australia, the UK and the Netherlands.

“It is disappointing that Alfred Ngaro didn’t back it given strong support for it from submitters on the bill who included Cook Island Prime Minister the Hon Henry Puna and Premier Talagi from Niue”.

“Alfred Ngaro ignored the wishes of the Cook Island community, people who he claims to represent as a Member of Parliament,” Christchurch East MP and Cook Islander Poto Williams says.

“The unique constitutional arrangement between New Zealand and the Islands is surely justification for an exemption on the five year after 50 rule.

“The Cook Island, Niue, and Tokelau communities have the right to feel frustrated about the Government’s refusal to support our amendment. They have even more of a right to feel disappointed in our very own Cook Island MP who should have convinced them otherwise,” Poto Williams said.