It very neatly captures the duplicity of government policy and exposes how it is driven not by universal principles, but by the particularism endemic within the present administration which has developed it into an art form.
Succinctly put, and as the CIP practises it, particularism means “rewarding one’s supporters and punishing one’s enemies”. This, if one listened to any of the barrage of speeches and talkbacks preceding the recent Ivirua by-election, was vividly illustrated in the, “What we will do for you if you support us”, and the implication, and sometimes not so much as implied but threatened, spectre of remaining in the wilderness if you don’t.
This is no way to run a country, but the evidence is rampant. The move to solar energy in the outer islands is one example. All that money and effort being poured into those tiny communities so government can claim it is half-way towards its ambitious 100 per cent renewable energy target, when 50 per cent should be judged not against the number of islands serviced, but rather the total Cook Islands daily electricity consumption. And then having done that exercise, explain why all that money and effort is not directed into the economic powerhouse, Rarotonga, where the cost and opportunities benefits would far transcend the cost of continuing diesel generation in the outer islands in the meantime.
The reason is obvious for all to see. The CIP depends upon those islands to keep it in office, whereas if the same collective effort were dedicated to Rarotonga, the political gain would be more limited because the CIP does not enjoy the same influence here.
So what do we do instead? We identify a couple of strategically important Rarotonga constituencies and give them beautiful new roads even when they could have well managed with existing ones meanwhile refusing to upgrade those in more desperate plight, like Muri, defending the neglect there with the now deceitful argument that sewerage reticulation needs to come first, conveniently ignoring that I urged the government well before the Te Mato Vai digging reached Muri, that that was the time to place the reticulation pipework.
You have to give them credit, though, for deviousness. I believe they would have worked all this out beforehand, knowing all the while that it provided the perfect excuse when the anticipated criticism was eventually levelled at the Takuvaine and Avatiu pork-barrelling upgrades.
Now take the present subject, the fruit and vegetable levy. If you read that article as I did, there was one very clear conclusion: If the demand for fruit and vegetables could be met locally then the levy was justified but when supply could not meet demand it was not. The Agriculture secretary concedes the point and his minister, cautiously mindful of fealty to vested interests, will probably follow suit. Neither has a single word to say however when confronted by that same logic when it comes to eggs.
The local egg industry, before the systematic state sponsored demolition of it was, and could, with rebuilding, again, supply the demand. But did we hear anything from either of these two people even when confronted by my serious challenge to them and the DPM during the budget debate (CINews July 3, 2017) that they were perpetrating the fiction that the local industry could not meet demand and therefore the flooding of the local market with imports was justified?
Nothing surer, they would have been under instructions not to be drawn.
And do we see any action on the part of the bureaucracy to heed my requests to invoke the provisions of their own legislation which could avert the final demise of this industry which both their CIP and Democratic predecessors were so supportive of?
Particularism at work folks.
John M Scott