Questions over Henderson’s TV appearance

Monday July 02, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

The voting is over, but the electorate still needs to keep its eyes on the several important issues.

 

Chief among them are what seem to be financial irregularities committed by the Puna government.

Financial secretary Garth Henderson appeared twice on CITV to make statements about the Cook Islands debt position and the audited Crown accounts.

The appearance itself is irregular. Can any reader recall any financial secretary ever making public statements in the media at election time?

All relevant financial information is supposed to be contained in the PEFU (Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update), quite aside from the requirement to report to parliament, which then allows the Financial Secretary to stand well clear of the election process, where he is supposed to be impartial.

Henderson’s appearance was ineffective at addressing three key concerns:

• That the current Government has not filed any statements of Unauthourised Expenditure to Parliament for eight years. This expenditure totals about $25 million dollars.

• That the current government has not filed any audited Crown accounts of the actuals to Parliament for the last 6 years.

• That the current Government has breached the Constitution in a most serious way by spending money without authority beyond the limits set by the Constitution by about $17 million.

On television, Henderson did claim that the Audited Crown Accounts were not six years behind but rather “only” three years in arrears. If this is the case, then where are they? What are the paper numbers that are attached to these Audited Crown Accounts in Parliament that he can point to, to prove his claim and why did he make such an unsubstantiated claim?

In other words, these very serious irregularities remain unaddressed.

And even if Henderson can provide satisfactory financial answers, he must also explain how his appearances — only on the high-impact, one-way medium of TV, and timed to influence voter opinion, were not indeed interference in an election.

How can we see his appearances as anything but an improper attempt to address campaign issues on behalf of the Minister of Finance?

            James Beer

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