A court ruling on electoral malpractice on Tuesday (25 July) brought down the government of the Cook Islands, a group of 15 tiny coral atolls and islands scattered over 850,000 square miles (2.2 million sq.
SV PAN INTERIOR Courtroom. Sir Albert Henry and other M.P.s seated as Chief Justice Gaven Donne enters
SV M.P.s and others seated waiting judgement ZOOM OUT THROUGH window TO crowds waiting outside (2 shots)
SV Sir Albert Henry seated with M.P.s and others
SV Dr. Tom Davis shaking hands with officials
SCU Sir Albert Henry talking to colleague
SV Dr. Davis speaking to others and talking to reporter (2 shots)
SV Sir Albert and Dr. Davis shake hands (2 shots)
GV Police guarding house and candidates wait in lobby (4 shots)
Dr. Davis enters room, shakes hands with Queen's representative, and is appointed Premier of Cook Islands (2 shots)
TRANSCRIPT: ARCHIE: "Inside the courtroom, the atmosphere was tense, but restrained. The Chief Justice delivered his judgement in just over three hours, but half way through it became apparent that his decision would come down firmly against Sir Albert and his party. He denounced the actions not only of the former premier but also his ministers, other M.P.s, party members and officers of the executive and government. Eight members of Sir Albert's Cook Islands Party lost their seats outright. Another faces a by-election. Mr. Justice Donne made it clear that he believes misconduct by the previous government will result in criminal proceedings. He has asked for all the evidence to be given to the police for consideration. This was the culmination of years of political and legal effort for Dr. Tom Davis and his Democrat Party."
SQ. 6: DAVIS: "I'm very pleased, but as I explained, what I'm most pleased....... about is that this is a quantum jump in our political development."
ARCHIE: Sir Albert turned to shake hands once again with his successor. He had little to say about the judgement which described his unlawful conduct as having `monumental dimensions'. Meanwhile the new successful Democrat candidates waited at a nearby house, awaiting a call from the Queen's representative. The Democrats gained eight new seats from the judgement, giving them a 15-6 majority in the assembly with a by-election pending. At the Raratonga Hotel Dr. Tom Davis was asked by the clerk of the legislative assembly to see the Queen's representative. The Chief Justice, exercising the functions of the High Commissioner of the Cook Islands, asked Dr. David to form a new government.
CHIEF JUSTICE: "Do you mind sitting down. I shall now formally appoint you Premier of the Cook Islands. Mr. Premier here is the appointment of yourself as Premier of the Cook Islands."
DAVIS: "Thank you."
CHIEF JUSTICE: "May I congratulate you."
DAVIS: "Thank you, your excellency."
CHIEF JUSTICE: "And now would you be good enough now to take the oath of office."
REPORTER: CAROL ARCHIE
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: A court ruling on electoral malpractice on Tuesday (25 July) brought down the government of the Cook Islands, a group of 15 tiny coral atolls and islands scattered over 850,000 square miles (2.2 million sq. kms.) of the South Pacific. Chief Justice Gaven Donne made the ruling after a three month inquiry. He said that unlawful conduct of "monumental dimensions" had taken place in the March election of Sir Albert Henry and his Cook Islands party. It involved the equivalent of 2.8 per cent of the state's total budgetary expenditure, he said. After ordering Sir Albert's dismissal, Chief Justice Donne later swore in opposition leader Dr. Tom Davis as Premier to govern the 25,000 islanders. Legal experts in New Zealand, which is still responsible for the island's defence and foreign affairs, said they knew of no precedent for such a court ruling overturning a government. Here, with a report on the hearing and its aftermath. is Carol Archie of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.