Minister’s over-hasty reply barks up the wrong tree

Monday November 19, 2018 Published in Letters to the Editor
Deputy prime minister and fi nance minister Mark Brown. 18111814 Deputy prime minister and fi nance minister Mark Brown. 18111814

Dear Editor,

May I suggest that the Cook Islands Investment Corporation check whether the Minister of Finance's office has enough wall space to accommodate what I perceive as a growing siege mentality reaction operating there, so he can frame and hang his gems of, “Things I wish I had never said,” to shine as a beacon to remind him of the folly of shooting from the hip.


The minister, in his over-hasty retort in CINews on Saturday, telling us of his abdication from being the “spokesperson for everything”, asserted I had accused him of penning that letter signed off as “MBA”.

I can assure the minister if I had intended such an accusation it would have been unmistakeable.

So, as he clearly follows closely what I write, would he please harness his exceptional powers so as avoid similar silly mistakes in future.

Not wishing to dwell too long on the insignificant, I was actually floating the notion that  “MBA” could have been the minister, all the while harbouring a more serious belief that it was actually another advocate and ardent defender of the CIP dialectic with a similar initial mix. But it does not matter now as it successfully rankled the minister.

Is the public now, however, detecting an increasing frustration on the part of the minister that as Te Mato Vai becomes more of an embarrassment than the hitherto hoped-for path to glory, that the minister no longer wants to be the face of it? This seems evidenced by the recent delegation to the Financial Secretary to break the news of the $30m-plus blowout and now the project management unit (PMU) to answer the present questions as to cost of bringing home the promised “potable”. The minister avows the PMU "have been answering these same questions over and over again”. This is news to me, as it must be to others in view of the minister's own remark that, “Disinfection of water is a matter still being addressed today”.

I suppose it would take an MBA to understand the logic of that. If the method by which the water is to become potable has not been decided then it would normally stand to reason that it could  not yet have been costed and, that being the case, could therefore not have been answered “over and over again.” But but I mean, what do I know when confronted by the formidable intellect of the man managing the public finances and aspiring to replace the prime minister as soon as he can find another sinecure for the present incumbent.

Speaking of solutions, I did volunteer one and that was ozone (CINews January 13, 2018), which the minister subsequently adopted as one alternative and which he has obviously conveniently forgotten. However, even that may not be the answer once costed. It seems to me that providing each household on Rarotonga with a UV unit could have been a far more practical and cost effective solution. Then the “clean” water could be used for the bathroom and agriculture.

But then practicality and cost-effectiveness do not feature very prominently in this government’s thinking.  Just take the debate over the Manatua cable, for example.

John M Scott


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