Government MP Nicholas’ absence questioned by Cook Islands Opposition
27 September, 2018, 1:35 am
RAROTONGA, 26 SEPTEMBER 2018 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) – Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna told Parliament to mention rumours in connection with absent Member of Parliament Albert Nicholas “is totally improper”.
Puna was responding to the question from Titikaveka MP Selina Napa, who asked him on the whereabouts of the Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston MP.
Nicholas, who was dismissed as the Infrastructure minister on Thursday, has failed to turn up to Parliament since it started on Wednesday last week.
“You have probably heard all sorts of rumours floating around in regards to his absence and why isn’t he here with us,” Napa posed.
In reply, Puna said “I understand all members of this House are aware of the Standing Order that prohibits any personal implication on any member, so to mention rumours in connection with the Honourable Member is totally improper”.
Puna reiterated the member concerned left Rarotonga for medical checkup in Auckland.
“He had asked the deputy prime minister for leave as I wasn’t in the country at the time. The understanding was that he would be away for about a week and then will be back in Rarotonga after his checkup. However, the member has not returned and despite efforts to make contacts with him, that has been unsuccessful.
“And it was on that basis that I took the decision to terminate his appointment as a minister … purely on the basis that, that sort of behaviour in my view did not measure up to the high standard expected of a minister of the crown.
“Anything else outside of what I have told this honourable House would be pure speculation. And I would ask Honourable members to desist from that.”