Sleepwalking into disaster and ruin

Wednesday October 10, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
A reader says: “We need to be able to have faith in the institutions put in place to hold politicians and government to account and protect our public interest.” 18100924 A reader says: “We need to be able to have faith in the institutions put in place to hold politicians and government to account and protect our public interest.” 18100924

Never has the view been so bleak.

 

A dysfunctional, virtually non-existent opposition party, together with a fourth estate that seems either unwilling or incapable of asking the hard questions of this government and hold it to account. A government which has now twice lost the popular vote, but because of a gerrymandered political system which grossly favours the smallest constituencies of the pa enua, has retained power for yet another four-year term.

Couple this with a public who are either too afraid to speak out or don’t understand what is going on, and an apathetic private sector vulnerable to the apparent vindictiveness of the politicians or who are themselves the beneficiaries of the political patronage on offer to those who toe the party line - and we have a recipe for a state truly deserving of the moniker, “banana republic”.

A case in point is the recent farcical appointment of the former Ministry of Marine Resources Head of Ministry as the new Chief of Staff. It is indeed a remarkable turnaround for a HOM who has been the subject of multiple investigations for his errant behaviour, and was most recently being suspended for almost half a year on full pay for apparently disregarding the direct instructions of his Minister.

And it is a stunning backflip from the prime minister, who finally bowed to public pressure in awarding the MMR post to a returning (and deserving) Cook Islander, but somehow determined to resurrect the former MMR head as his chief adviser no less!

The question must be asked of the Public Service Commissioner (wherever he is) as to whether this appointment followed proper procedure. Did the former MMR head apply for this position, meet all the deadlines and go through the formal interview process that all others had to follow for this position, or does that standard only apply to some and not the chosen few?

I am guessing that the PSC report of the reasons for his suspension (on full pay) will never see the light of day. Maybe the PSC Commissioner could remind us how all this reflects his vision of a “Public Service of Excellence’’? What a joke.

It seems every other day we are being fed half-truths by a deputy prime minister who sadly has learnt the bad habits of a broken system, and now believes his own political spin. Are we truly supposed to accept that a 50 per cent blow-out in the Te “Maki” Vai budget is normal and to be expected?

Then again, I suppose it was, given the abject performance of those who were paid to manage this project from its inception. Why doesn’t the DPM come out and tell the public, who are paying for this project, the whole truth?

Why does he marginalise and obfuscate the apparently serious issues behind the quality of the pipe junctions in his most recent press release? Are we now condemned to be forever digging up the roads to replace failing pipework? Is this the price we are expected to pay for all this debt we have taken on?

These are the hard questions that need straight and unambiguous answers, but who is asking them?

Why does this government pay no heed to the ongoing concerns of the public on the cost versus benefits of the $40 million Manatua Cable, and any possible alternatives?

Is it perhaps for the same reason that it didn’t listen to the massive public outcry on the EU purse seine deal? A deal which we see now that the Court of Appeal had significant issues with – and all related (again) to the complete lack of transparency and disregard that this government seems to have with public stakeholders.

It is sadly symptomatic of a government which routinely ignores the will of the vast majority of our people to pursue its own political ends. Thanks to the efforts of John Scott in highlighting the alarming regularity with which this government cuts corners on parliamentary procedure and indeed its constitutional obligations, we see yet more evidence of the very serious and ongoing erosion of the democratic principles and values upon which this country was founded.

I could go on here: a tax write-off scheme whose largest beneficiaries will probably never be identified, the almost $2 million worth of free cargo and passage of our northern brothers and sisters for another big party (and boy do these guys like a party!); the bank raids on the elderly; and so on.

All of this is reflected in an absentee leader who appears to be almost completely disconnected and detached from the voting public, and who appears more obsessed with his next overseas destination than actually showing any sort of real leadership that this country desperately needs.

We all ought to be concerned with the direction we are heading politically and as a nation. It seems we are now further away from the goals and aspirations of our people since 1965 than ever. We need to be able to have faith in the institutions put in place to hold politicians and government to account and protect our public interest.

We need to stand up and say that this is not acceptable!

C’mon kotou, we are sleepwalking into disaster and ruin if we don’t step up and hold these politicians to account – all of us!

            A Concerned Taxpayer

            (Name and address supplied)

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