A letter in CI News yesterday, signed “Tickled,” claimed Short’s hard-hitting presentation to last week’s Demo Party conference had influenced the outcome of the party’s election.
Replying in his own letter yesterday, Short said “Tickled” had completely misunderstood what he had said in his presentation.
“I decided to respond because it is clear that he has completely misunderstood what I was saying, and secondly he tried to blame me as a person that was instrumental in the election of a new leader for the Democratic Party.
“I can’t see how one person’s presentation can influence a whole conference, so it appears the writer’s comments are misguided,” Short said.
“I respect the previous members such as Smiley (Heather) who have held leadership positions within the party and have been good friends with Rose Brown and her husband since university, so I am surprised I have been dragged into this arena by a person who lacks the courage to put their real name to their article.
“The message I was trying to get across is that we (the Democratic Party) simply need to review what we have been doing over the years with the objective of becoming more effective as an opposition and more importantly, to demonstrate responsibility and a real commitment to the electors if the Democratic Party wins the general elections and becomes government.”
Short said he had suggested that if the Demos became government they should cancel all travel and force all government ministries to complete a review of their respective responsibilities.
The party could then identify and set its priorities in order of importance before working to address these priorities by allocating the resources needed to fix them, he added.
“At the moment, it feels as if we have no road map and are flying blind. This doesn’t mean that important travel to comply with treaty obligations would have to be cancelled, and for ‘Tickled’ to suggest this lacks common sense.”
Generally, in New Zealand and Australia if a Cabinet minister was involved in any decision or project that was unethical and/or contrary to what would be expected of someone holding elected office, they would resign and this had in fact happened in numerous instances, Short added.
“My suggestion for reviews to be undertaken in the Cook Islands on projects of this nature is because no-one resigns, even when they have been directly implicated.
“We have the example of the Sheraton debacle and many other major incidents that seem to have been set aside, and remain uninvestigated.
“As a result, public funds are unaccounted for and life goes on with no punishment or reprimand for those involved.
“We always talk about good governance, but in reality many people have not been held accountable for their involvement in matters involving public funds and taxpayers’ money. “People who have been appointed to ministerial positions and Head of Ministry (HOM) positions do not resign when the country suffers from a decision made by them based on incompetence, and the people suffer again and again.”
Short believed the public were sick of this kind of behaviour, but had tolerated what they have been seeing for a very long time.
“This was the reason I proposed that reviews and a commission of enquiry be undertaken on various projects that have been carried out without authorised budget allocations to start making our leaders accountable for once.
“I have friends in the Cook Islands Party, Democratic Party and One Cook Islands and I believe that there is a genuine desire by many people in these parties to develop our nation. The problem is that they do not make the decisions and must kowtow to those in power.
“It is this limitation that excludes them from being able to contribute effectively towards the development of our country.”
Short said his comments were not intended to be disrespectful and he apologised if they were seen in that light.
“I was honest in my opinions and it was my intention to challenge the Democratic Party to look at alternative ways of doing things with the view to becoming more successful.”
He would not respond to the other issues raised by “Tickled” regarding appointments to boards and HOM positions because “only a fool” would appoint a “monkey” to head a ministry without proper qualifications.
“If the Demos have good people with the right qualifications who could provide a service to their country, then they should be considered because they would hold the same ethos as the party in going forward.”
While he was surprised that his presentation had generated interest from “Tickled” at least some of the concerns he had raised in his address had stimulated discussion and criticism, Short said.
“Which is good, because issues are meant to be debated and openly discussed which is a key ingredient for healthy democracy.”