Sacked minister expected back at the weekend

Friday September 21, 2018 Written by Published in Politics
Albert Nicholas pictured back in June, when he spoke at the launch of the CIP election campaign. 18092024 Albert Nicholas pictured back in June, when he spoke at the launch of the CIP election campaign. 18092024

Former Cabinet minister Albert Nicholas is expected to return to Rarotonga by the end of the weekend.

 

Nicholas, who is believed to be battling serious health issues, has been in New Zealand for the past month.

The Member of Parliament for Avatiu-Ruatonga-Palmerston (RAPPA), was sacked by prime minister Henry Puna on Wednesday.

Puna announced that Nicholas: “Has been unable to discharge his responsibilities of the high office of minister and it has become necessary for us to terminate the appointment and appoint a new minister in his place.”

Rumours have surrounded Nicholas’ health and yesterday afternoon CINews asked the prime minister about the former minister.

“The truth is I’m not privy to all the details,” Puna said. “I have approached this issue strictly from a prime minister-to-minister relationship and the responsibilities, plus the standards, expected of a minister of the Crown.

“That’s all my interest in this matter is.

“There is a lot of speculation but, again, you know I need to be very careful – everybody needs to be very careful - because we haven’t had the opportunity of testing the speculation.

“And we can never be in a position to do that unless we speak directly with the Honourable Member (Nicholas).

“As far as I am aware the Honourable Member is still in New Zealand. He has been there since the evening that the petition result for his constituency came out, which would be about a month.”

Asked about the situation Puna said: “It is very difficult. It is very difficult indeed, but I can imagine that if it is difficult for me, then it especially difficult for his mother and his family and the many supporters he has in his constituency.

“I am sure they are all wondering what is happening and I guess we will never know until the man himself shows up.”

Puna said he had been in touch with Nicholas last week.

“I was talking with the Honourable Member last Thursday and I was impressing on him, naturally, the importance of coming back as soon as possible because of the Parliament sitting coming up and, of course, his own responsibilities as a minister.

“And I was assured by the Honourable Member that he will be back either before the weekend, or during the weekend, the latest being on Sunday.”

Asked if he will sit down and talk to Nicholas the PM said: “I think we owe each other that courtesy at the very least.” 

He added the sacking of Nicholas “was only done after much soul-searching and very deep thinking”.

“It was very upsetting.

“I wouldn’t mind saying I lost quite a lot of sleep over it over the last couple of weeks.”

And he had a message for Nicholas’ family and supporters: “For me … his family and his supporters, particularly his committee, and all of those that had put their faith and trust in him, they are the ones who really deserve our sympathies at this very difficult time.”

NOTE: An MP can lose their seat if they miss 14 consecutive sitting days of parliament.

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