Bishop’s reform ideas deemed ‘devious’

Thursday April 12, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
One Cook Islands leader and former MP Teina Bishop pictured in parliament. (PHOTO: File) 18041108 One Cook Islands leader and former MP Teina Bishop pictured in parliament. (PHOTO: File) 18041108

Dear Editor,

Teina Bishop’s ideas on electoral reform (CI News April 9) are a re-run of what he said several years ago, and are as devious now as they were then.

 

While I think there must have been a misprint in his possible example of Atiu having 1850 voters and being entitled to three seats instead of two, at his arbitrary rate of one MP for each 1000 voters, the draft bill he mentioned speaks of “one or more members” for every 1000 voters over “three consecutive elections”. What exactly is he talking about?

Given Bishop’s recent history, and that he’s by nature and inclination a politician interested firstly, and probably only, in promoting his own interests, we need to look closely at what else he’s saying, and, not saying.

Cherry-picking electorates for elimination goes hand-in-hand with his calculation as to what his tiny party could pick up with his absurd idea of the first, second and third candidates in an election becoming members of parliament in an electorate with three members.

Everybody wins a prize, but most importantly, with this scheme the tiny third party - his, gets a member. This proposition is a classic example of a politician trying to bend the rules to achieve what he can’t achieve by the ordinary voting method of the winner being the candidate with the most votes.

What Bishop didn’t talk about in his cherry-picking exercise, was the four northern seats where the biggest problem of unfairness lies. The low voter numbers on Penrhyn, Rakahanga, and Manihiki are an embarrassment to democratic values. Pukapuka barely passes. How can anyone except a calculating politician talk about electoral reform and not mention these seats and the need to restructure their representation? What is his game plan there? One, two, three, hey presto, a seat for One Cook Islands?

Bishop says of the 2010 referendum that “the people have spoken.”

Well, not quite. A 75 per cent majority is required to make the result binding and it wasn’t reached. So to claim “the people have spoken” is not true and is simply wishful thinking. Even if a majority had been reached, it certainly doesn’t mean that the people of this country will be pressured into accepting this type of electoral trickery as a solution.  The only rational answer is to establish an independent Electoral Commission which will look at things anew in light of current conditions.

            Mata-Atua McNair

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