Opposition leader William ‘Smiley’ Heather and Democratic Party leader Tina Browne are outraged with the government’s call for an early election, which is now set for June 14, calling it typical of the arrogance of the Puna-led government.
They say that from their point of view it is even more troubling that the election has been called off the back of the recent state visit to New Zealand and the flooding around Rarotonga.
“The calling of a snap election by the prime minister Henry Puna is a despicable act of disrespect for the interests of the Cook Islands people,” Browne said. “Amidst flooding on some parts of Rarotonga after heavy rain where a number of businesses and private homes have suffered huge losses and amidst huge public concerns about deteriorating roads, the prime minister calls a snap election?”
Heather said that the manner of announcing was “neglectful of duty and responsibility as the leader of the country”.
“This is an act of arrogance by Henry Puna, an act of failing to discharge his duty to advise Parliament and all other Members of Parliament of his government’s plans,” he said.
“He should be held accountable for the fallout of it in terms of how government functions from this point on.”
Browne said that the trip to New Zealand was particularly deceitful, as the PM seemed more interested in patching up relations over there while stabbing his own people in the back.
“This is typical of the style of Henry Puna and his government. They do not take heed of the feelings or concerns of the public but do things driven for self-preservation.
“The calling of this election shows his arrogance and the attitude of burying his head in the sand when there is a crisis.”
Finance minister Mark Brown, standing in for PM Puna at a government press conference yesterday, said that he could understand the opposition being upset, but it is something that they should have expected. “It wasn’t a matter of if an election would be called, it was when. It may have caught them off guard, but it shouldn’t, as they’ve been talking about elections now for months, speculating about when it will be called,” Brown said.
“I guess if they were smart enough they would have prepared for an election and prepared for a campaign period.”