Turia hits back at Brown

Tuesday September 20, 2016 Written by Published in Politics

ONE COOK Islands president George Turia says there’s a big difference between the government appointing Mona Ioane as the new deputy Speaker of Parliament, and the opposition coalition’s appointment of Teina Bishop as parliamentary leader in the weeks leading up to his court appearance and sentencing on a charge of corruption as a minister of the Crown.

 

He made the claim last week in a letter to the editor of CI News, in reply to an earlier letter written by Brown.

The Finance minister had said Turia was “very wrong” in claiming Albert Nicholas was politically naive and not capable of making high-level decisions. 

“On the contrary, Albert has proved himself to be very politically astute and remarkably adept as a Cabinet minister,” Brown wrote.

“More so than any member of Turia’s ‘rainbow’ coalition.”

However, Turia says Ioane was found guilty of bribery by the Court of Appeal under the Electoral Act, with the matter referred to the Cook Islands Police Service to determine if criminal charges should follow under the Crimes Act.

“He was already found guilty.

“In Bishop’s case, he was under investigation and cleared of one charge of bribery. He became leader of the coalition prior to the charges being confirmed. He resigned before appearing on the second charge where he was found guilty and convicted accordingly, pending an appeal.”

Turia says the difference is that Bishop recognised the fact that he was subject to court proceedings and had not wanted to compromise the integrity of parliament or bring the House into disrepute. He had therefore tendered his resignation to the Speaker.

“In Ioane’s case, he didn’t do anything! The PM turned it into a political farce where he promised the CIPs in Aitutaki that Ioane would be appointed a minister, but he gave that position to Albert Nicholas instead.

“I believe the PM was hoping Bishop would be convicted earlier, allowing Ioane’s case to drop into oblivion.

“However, that did not happen, so there is mounting pressure for Ioane’s case to now proceed for a by-election too.

The PM is treating Ioane as if he is a minister because of Ioane’s threats to cross the floor to One Cook Islands if his case is not retracted, Turia claims.

“I leave that to your own interpretation. Ioane is now on the equivalent salary as a minister, travels overseas as if he is a minister and represents government at high level ministerial forums, particularly with regard to the Marine Resources portfolio.”

Turia says Ioane’s status is in fact equivalent to that of a seventh minister.

“So what do you make of that? Furthermore, the deputy Speaker’s position was promised to the member for Rakahanga, and it is common knowledge that he was going to be appointed on his return from China last week. Except the ‘’no-show’’ by the opposition in parliament this week stuffed that up and Ioane was recommended.

“This is the very reason why the changes need to occur within parliament, because they are not following due conventions and processes.” 

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