Govt spending creates sense of entitlement in Pa Enua

Wednesday August 22, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In his August 16 reply to my original letter concerning outer island expenditure by government, Utu Panu indicates pretty clearly that he doesn’t live in the Pa Enua – he mentions ‘them’ and ‘they’ and ‘these people’, not ‘us’ or ‘we,’ as if he belonged. I wonder whether he even lives in the Cook Islands.

He ignores the government’s own figures as to where government tax revenues come from (mainly Rarotonga) and go to (more than 60 per cent to the Pa Enua).

He then throws the cloak of victimhood around his shoulders and talks of the need to “make up for the poverty and misery these people have had to endure for over 50 years”.

But no one is forced to live in the Pa Enua. It’s not a prison camp. People choose where they live.

I suppose he means he wants even more taxpayers’ money to be poured into the Pa Enua to “take care of them”, as he puts it.

I ask myself where this ingrained sense of entitlement came from.

For 2017/2018, government Pa Enua spending had a clear link to the fact it was an election year.

Perhaps it’s the unfairness of the electoral system that leads to government’s unrelenting spending on smaller and smaller Pa Enua populations, to win tiny electorates, and that in turn creates a sense of perpetual entitlement in ‘them’ out there.

Frankly, if population decline continues as it has, both the imbalance in electorate voter numbers and government Pa Enua spending will take care of themselves – no people, no electorates, no spending.

Perhaps this is wishful thinking. Meanwhile, I for one don’t think the Pa Enua islands should continue to contribute little or nothing towards government tax revenues, yet expect a free ride in return as of right.

On the subject of Pa Enua electorates, Thomas Wynne’s Saturday article set off alarm bells.

He mentioned the possibility of eliminating electorates on Mangaia, Atiu and Aitutaki, something both the CIP and OCI have floated before.

It’s a dangerous idea. Anything less than a complete country-wide review will certainly be used by the party in power to manipulate the decision to suit their own political agenda.

            Mata-Atua McNair

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