Wilkie Rasmussen: Hypocrisy of charter flights

Saturday May 30, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor
A charter flight to Manihiki. 20052254 A charter flight to Manihiki. 20052254

Dear sir,

Even in these gloomy economic and hard financial times, this government continues to raid our country's trough.

There really is no excuse for the Prime Minister Henry Puna and his government to charter two flights to the northern islands of Manihiki, Penrhyn and Pukapuka.

The more than $60,000 wasted could have been spent on something useful and meaningful.

Instead taxpayers again funded a political campaign jaunt by the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown and Minister Robert Tapaitau along with Cook Islands Party cronies such as the former MP for Rakahanga, Toka Hagai. 

There is no doubt these visits were planned to coincide with the Council and Mayoral elections. Henry Puna and his team was campaigning for their charges in the local government elections. Even the Cook Islands police vessel Te Kukupa was despatched to complement the visit of the Prime Minister, in particular to Manihiki.

The hypocrisy of it? The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister capture our attention with their measures to combat the ills of Covid-19 and the collapse of tourism, our single revenue earner, for political mileage. And yet they say, no-one should be playing politics at this time.

I hear that among many other flashes of incoming dollars and jobs to the northern group, promises of airports being tar-sealed in Manihiki and Penrhyn to begin as early as July were announced.

How irresponsible is that when hundreds of home and unit owners in Rarotonga and Aitutaki are about to face mortgage sales if tourism does not recover?

They should be here in Rarotonga buckling down like all of us. Or is this to smooth over the Prime Minister's announcement before the borders closed to fly all vulnerable people to the northern islands as was done with the southern group? It never happened and people regard that as a lie.

Wilkie Rasmussen

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