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Election campaigns ‘lacked substance’

Tuesday July 15, 2014 Written by Published in Politics
Former MP Iaveta Short says last week’s general elections failed to focus on the big issues. 14071426 Former MP Iaveta Short says last week’s general elections failed to focus on the big issues. 14071426

Campaigns from the two major political parties were pre-occupied with offering ‘lollies’ to voters, instead of focusing on the big issues, says one of the country’s former lawmakers.

That is the sentiment from Iaveta Short, retired lawyer and former Member of the Cook Islands Parliament, who served between 1978 and 1983.

He criticised both the Cook Islands Party and the Democratic Party for failing to produce comprehensive policy documents for the 2014 election, and not offering voters clear solutions to the major issues facing the county.

“The focus on national policies, the big issues that are facing the nation, is going down,” said Short.

Previous elections had well thought out policies, he said.

Nowadays, politicians are mainly looking for “... whatever they can sell to the people.”

“The whole campaign is becoming superfluous, offering lollies to get votes,” he said. “And the people are happily participating in it.”

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With the Cook Islands’, “tiny communities”, he said he could understand the “personalised" politics to an extent, with door knocking being the key to winning votes.

“(Candidates) are only telling the people what they want to hear,” he said. “It’s a reflection of the society we are in. People want things instantly. Nobody is looking at the big picture.”

Of particular importance to the country is economic development, and failing to address it is contributing to the issue of depopulation, said Short.

“There is a failure to diversify - all of our eggs are in one basket,” he said, pointing to the nation’s tourism-oriented economy.

With a lacklustre economy, Short says people are moving on to more productive shores, leaving few Cook Islanders to become involved in the development of the country.

“The thinkers are gone,” he said. “We have lost our best people - the most adventurous, the most industrious - those who would add to the backbone of the nation ... that’s a loss we can never make up.

“The go-getters are gone. The Europeans have come and taken over.”

Another issue Short said the parties failed to address adequately is the difficulties locals face in accessing capital from the banks.

“They simply cannot start their own businesses,” he said. “The government has failed to ensure affordable financing for people to build their own homes.”

The former MP also challenged politicians to adequately deal with the issue of electoral reform.

“It’s not producing good results,” said Short, using the words “self-serving” and “myopic" to describe the current system.

‘Everybody talks about it before an election, and forgets about it after.”


  • Comment Link Charles Reu Saturday, 19 July 2014 19:30 posted by Charles Reu

    totally agree with you there and people happily allow this to continue. lets hope they will do better work this time around.

  • Comment Link NONO TAPENA-GLASSIE Saturday, 19 July 2014 12:35 posted by NONO TAPENA-GLASSIE

    Maybe Mr Short you need to come out of retirement?....and help save our beautiful paradise...just saying....

  • Comment Link William Tuesday, 15 July 2014 22:04 posted by William

    Totally agree Mr Short. No one is looking at the bigger picture. All the thinkers have gone. The go-getters are gone and the Europeans have come and taken over. Politics and running a Country is about paying great attention to the unknown predators quietly swimming among small fish in an incoming tide. It's not about addressing the concerns of a few herrings stranded in a pond at the peak of an out- going tide. Unfortunately for our Country, the politicians, for many decades have had their focus purely directed at the latter. As I watch the announcement on TVNZ of three Chineese Banks setting up shop in New Zealand, I think of the unknown predators about to strike at the gills of our Parataito. Teakaroa.

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