He’s back - with more support

Friday May 19, 2017 Written by Published in Politics
Albert Nicholas relaxes at his family home with supporters. 17051806 Albert Nicholas relaxes at his family home with supporters. 17051806

A  happy and relieved Albert Nicholas has been returned to the Cook Islands parliament with a much-increased majority.

 

Predictions of a tight race in RAPPA proved incorrect as preliminary counting gave Nicholas (CIP) 316 votes, his closest rival Teina Rongo (Democrat) 163 and the independent John Henry received 24 votes. There were four informal ballot papers and at least 60 special votes are still to be counted.

When he won the seat for the Democrats in 2014 Nicholas only had a 36-vote margin.

“I’m feeling happy … relieved and happy with the final result. Though we did kind of expect the result going our way, but I’m happy and relieved it’s out of the way.”

Nicholas says a lot of his support came from the hard work he and his team have done in the community.

“There’s no doubt about that. I think the result on the night proved the satisfaction of the community on the work we have been doing for our community.

“It shows us we are on the right path.

“Our plan was to try to take care of everyone and not the old-style politics where when politicians get in they tend to take care of their own party members.

“We are not about that, we will look after everyone whether you were with us or not. We intend to carry that on into the future.

“There will be no change to that way of doing things. We will carry on with our community programmes.”

And Nicholas is eager to be back in parliament. 

“I’ll be free to speak my mind openly, without being hindered by party-hopping legislation. That’s the exciting part for me. I can’t wait to go to parliament and speak my mind freely.

“I’ll represent my community 120 per cent without being held back by party politics.”

The entry of former CIP MP for RAPPA John Henry into the by-election race raised party fears its vote could split, opening the way for the Democrat candidate Rongo to succeed, but the result showed CIP voters stayed true.

“I wouldn’t say they’ve come on to my side. I’d say those CIP voters held firm to their party.

“The CIP is about the party and not individuals, the polls have proved that.

“There were claims made that CIP would split down middle, but the results show it is a very united party.”

Helping his popularity with voters has been the work he has done for everyone in the RAPPA community.

“It is a huge majority and it is a testament to the platform we have set for ourselves and it is confirmation that we are on right track.”

So what is the thing he most wants to achieve in parliament?

“I want to be proactive in legislation,” he says.

“I have this passion for people. There has been a tendency in the past for people to shy away from ministry of internal affairs …

“I’d like to reform the whole social welfare system - its legislation and policies are outdated. While I was there Bredina Drollett (former head of ministry now chief of staff of the Office of the Prime Minister) and I were working to update them.

“The new Head of Ministry for internal affairs is also passionate about that, which I am excited about.

“I am really excited about dealing with some of the issues that will help our people - the whole welfare system, from pensions to child welfare.”

In the meantime Nicholas is going to get back to his community programme of helping the needy in his electorate.

“A lot of the old folk were not happy during the campaign because we couldn’t do the work. Now we can.”

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