Mangaia political reform plan fades into history

Thursday May 24, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
Former Cook Islands prime minister Jim Marurai. 18052311 Former Cook Islands prime minister Jim Marurai. 18052311

Dear Editor,

Electoral reform discussions are topical again - but always seem to subside once elections are over.

Does anyone recall that during the term of then prime minister Jim Marurai that the people of Mangaia agreed to having only one seat?

At the time, I thought it was misinformation, but on a visit to Mangaia in 2009, I was astonished to hear it from the community leaders that that was the case.

Fast forward by almost a decade and nothing has changed. But don’t blame the people of Mangaia for the failure of parliament to do so.

Other southern islands that could do with reductions in the number of representatives are Aitutaki and Atiu, perhaps by one MP each. However, I don’t recall ever hearing that the latter two islands had agreed to any such reduction in seats.

Up north, it would make sense to combine Manihiki and Rakahanga as one seat. After all, Pukapuka and Nassau are combined. It is also my understanding that before the advent of the missionaries from Britain that they were one and the same community, but seasonally moved from one island to the other.

Of course that scenario is highly unlikely in the near future with current prime minister Henry Puna running for Manihiki and aspiring PM Tina Pupuke Browne running for Rakahanga. Neither of the party leaders would want to lose their power base would they?

Nevertheless, I would not suggest any further reduction in numbers up north as they already tend to be left out or forgotten by those in power in Rarotonga. They deserve to have their voice heard too. After all we live in a democracy and that means having to have a number of representatives in parliament.

As for the political reform group of 1998, I would say that their conclusions need to be read in context.

At the time, Cook Islands was in virtually bankrupt and most of the population had left our shores after Public Servant numbers were drastically reduced as there was no money to pay them.

In that situation it is not surprising that the costs of having so many Members of Parliament’s was uppermost in their mind. It is telling that virtually none of their conclusions were not taken up - probably because they were too radical.

On the other hand, perhaps the axing of the Overseas seat was down to the recommendation of the Commission.

To my mind, the real problem in terms of costs are the rorts in relation to travel costs by the ministers and heads of ministry.

The ministers are so addicted to the life of luxury when travelling to obscure meetings all over the globe that they cannot see that it is morally wrong to waste our public money on such frippery that achieve very little to the public good.

Time for a reality check? Time to kick them out?

            Not Fun And Games

            (Name and address supplied)

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