He rejected opposition suggestions that MPs might be used as knowing or unknowing drug mules when they fly into Rarotonga, saying .searching and drug-testing all MPs was impractical, a waste of time and money.
Democratic Party MP Selina Napa hit back, “challenging the government to take this matter seriously”.
“Drugs is a national issue,” she said. “Why is the cost of a drug test an issue, when the amount of travelling overseas and the price of chartering a plane to the North is not?
“This is not a matter about costs, this is about showing the public we are clean, it’s about being good leaders.”
Napa has led several meetings about drug abuse in her Titikaveka constituency, and says constitutents want leaders to step up and lead by example. She fronted up to Rarotonga Hospital this week, for a urine test – the only kind of drug test that can be conducted in the Cooks.
She said MPs and heads of ministries should undertake drug tests voluntarily, to show leadership. “If the people see this as a waste of money, let the public say this – not another politician.”
But Angene cast doubt on the suggestion drugs might be entering the country in MPs’ luggage. “We are not stupid, we and our luggage are moved through scanners overseas before boarding our flights home,” he insisted. “I know, I’ve been through those machines.
“Imagine testing each member of Parliament every time we travel, how much it will cost, it’s ridiculous – we all know it’s a crime to bring in drugs.”
Napa was told at Rarotonga Hospital that there were no processes in place yet to test for methamphetamine – this was the first time someone had asked.