That, naturally, is something that an Opposition can afford to do. Regrettably, the Cook Islands Party has shown very little, if any, interest in addressing political reform to date. Henry Puna and the CIP power brokers have long since determined that it is not in their self-centred political interest to look into the subject as it could well threaten their hold on power, despite the broader benefits that political reform could well have for the people of the Cook Islands.
In my opinion, the reason there have been no recent, broad public calls for political reform, is not because the people of the Cook Islands don’t want it, but because they have all but given up on their political leaders to do anything that would threaten their privileged positions.
So good on you Wilkie (and the Democratic Party?) for calling for an independent commission on political reform. However, where I respectfully disagree with Wilkie is his (the deputy prime minister’s?) call for it to be headed or even run by New Zealand. This is not 1964. We are responsible for our own affairs and it is up to us to take charge of our own political reform process.
There are undoubtedly quite a number of truly independent people in our country who could lead the Commission and present a report reflecting the views of the people of this country.
The problem does not lie with the lack of qualified local people to be on the Commission. Based on the previous experience of years gone by with political reform, the problem would lie in our elected politicians who would not want to adopt any recommendations that conflicted with their own narrow, selfish interests. But, as the kids in the United States who have suffered from gun violence in schools are doing, if our elected leaders continue to set up road blocks against the will of the people we must vote them out.
One final point. Any independent commission, in my view, should have a broad mandate to look into not only the number of members of Parliament but such matters as the overall electoral process as well as ensuring the operation of an effective set of checks and balances (in other words, truly independent office holders in statutory positions who would ensure good, impartial and effective governance) to keep our elected leaders on the straight and narrow, serving the people who they represent faithfully and honestly.
I hope that I am wrong in my assessment of our politicians.
Time will tell.
(Name and address supplied)