Beer, who has just completed his first term in parliament, says serving time in the opposition is a critical component for any MP.
“To spend time in the opposition, it really helps to cut your teeth and understand what the issues are,” Beer said.
“As an opposition member your job is to take the responsibility on oversight, as you need to keep a very close eye to scrutinise the way that government operates.”
He says the role allowed him and fellow MPs to delve into areas that government members are unable to look into, due to being busy trying to run the country. And that made an invaluable learning experience, he adds.
“For example, being an opposition member, you’re looking for areas where you can make sure that the delivery of public monies is spent properly and according to the appropriations bill, as well as other areas.”
An active member in discussing issues, Beer says he constantly gets feedback from members of the community, especially when he touches on issues that have escaped the public’s attention.
He has often engaged in one-on-one sessions with members of his constituency, helping to flesh out questions that are hindering their understanding of particular issues.
Purse seine fishing was one area he highlighted, as he says many people were aware of the agreement government had signed with the EU, but weren’t aware of the ramifications.
“I felt that way back when the petitions were filed and the protest marches were going on. But now, there’s an opportunity for me and other members of parliament to speak more on it,” Beer explained.
“Because we’ve steadfastly said that we will phase out purse seine fishing. If we could stop it, we would, but we’re going to phase it out because we know that form of fishing is totally unsustainable.”
Beer is confident his party would emerge the winners of the June 14 election, pointing to history to show there are very rarely three term administrations in the Cook Islands and there have been none since 1978.
“Most of the people in the Cook Islands get to the stage, where irrespective of how well a government might be performing, they think no-one should be there that long. And I’m not saying that this government is performing, because there are a lot of issues.
“People get too comfortable in their positions as MPs, particularly in government and they start to take liberties that they would not otherwise be able to do.
“But my time as an opposition member is now over. It’s now time for us to get into government.”