Wilkie Rasmussen: ‘Leaders should make sacrifices too’

Saturday April 18, 2020 Published in Editorials
Former Minister for Finance Wilkie Rasmussen. Former Minister for Finance Wilkie Rasmussen.

Dear editor, The New Zealand Prime Minister announced salary cuts of 20 per cent for herself and her Cabinet.

The Cook Islands Prime Minister should do the same. Jacinda Ardern said it was an act of leadership. Henry Puna needs to show true grit.

Other New Zealand MPs have said the cuts should also apply to ordinary MPs. Have Puna and Finance Minister Mark Brown got the gumption to make those sacrifices?

Brown has fended off any thoughts of cuts to public servants. Is he being realistic or playing the political violin? So far our country mimicked New Zealand’s responses in tackling Covid-19.

Self-sacrifice is now begging. Yes or no? If no, then my thinking that the Government is milking this phenomenon for political gain is true. After all, it is there for milking.

I'm speaking out because no one has. Time now to move out of the emotional haze.

This country had been through an economic crisis before and not because of by a virus. Instead it was created by incompetence and false economics.

Then, we had a bloated public service – and it is larger now than then and Heads of Ministry are paid lots more now.

Reality set in and cuts resulted in drastic consequences. People left Rarotonga and our population has never recovered. 

Time to stop self-congratulations and plan hard on how to save the economy. We cannot continue to give away taxpayers funds to an increased pool of workers.

In addition we now fund foreign workers to do nothing in the hope recovery will be sooner than later. That's being wishful. We now pay out the dole, it only reduces our own funds. 

Government should face reality, take stock and make tough decisions. Paying out money is not a tough decision. Not paying is tough because we have no ability now to replenish revenue.

All our eggs were in the tourism basket. Government was warned of this and it rode its benefit out amidst complacency and failure to diversify. It pinned its hopes on seabed minerals. Wishful thinking again.

Some may hate what I'm saying. But I'll say it anyway. Government needs to be tough and frugal and accept that we are an isolated set of islands, subsistence by nature, and last to get through the bottleneck.

We need a competent government not one driven to appease the public on fear it might retaliate at the polls.


Wilkie Rasmussen
Former Minister of Finance

Read more:

* Demos leader makes ‘conscience’ decision to take 15% pay cut

* Politicians under pressure to sacrifice pay

1 comment

  • Comment Link Mario Panetta Monday, 20 April 2020 22:03 posted by Mario Panetta

    Hi Wilkie,
    I commend you for speaking up regarding that all government departments need to take a cut in this terrible time around the world,I take my hat of to Jarcinda Ardern for sacrificing her government a pay cut.Unfortunately this hasn't happened in Australia either, yet they expect everyone else to do so.The company I work for has been great trying every angle to save our jobs until this passes over, our directors have taken a 20% pay cut and most employee have opted to take annual leave to help out.I personally have opted to take 2 weeks leave with out pay to help save my job,its not nice but its for the good of all workers. The only reason I keep sending messages to the Cook Island is My wife and visit each year and absolutely love your island.

Leave a comment