If a Government demonstrates so little respect for its duties under our foundation law, the Constitution, and can get away with it for want of being challenged, do your readers not think for one moment that therein is a temptation in itself to venture into other administrative areas, writes John Scott, former Clerk of Parliament.
This is part two of the column published in yesterday, Friday, July 22 edition, under the headline ‘Democracy is under threat’.
And when a small faction within Government sees these opportunities and knows it can continue the abuse unchecked, even from within its own ranks, then we are in serious trouble.
The rule of law is not just some trite,
fancy slogan. It is the basis upon which successful societies are built but
most importantly, where all are concerned it, it means that the law applies
equally to everyone and that from the Prime Minister down to the man on the
street, the same rule applies.
But when a small clique, with the power of
the state at its disposal and opposition mute, or intimidated into silence, a
breeding ground for malfeasance on a grand scale is spawned with all the
attendant evils of cronyism and corruption the result.
And that I believe is where we have come
to under the administration of the Cook Islands Party which if successful in
forming the next government will take that as an endorsement of its style of
administration and acceptance that all the constitutional disobedience and
other questionable activity, infidelity and untrustworthiness which people
speak of, but do nothing about, are standards of behaviour which reflect those
of our society and give real meaning to the aphorism “you get the government
If voters would only think about the
depths to which we have sunk they would realise this is their chance for a new
beginning and opportunity to make a change and provide the environment to
finally clean up our act. Calls for corruption enquiries are positive steps.
Mr Editor, your letters column last
Wednesday, 13 July ran a brief letter from me asking Crown Law to comment on
whether criminal offences would have been committed where transgressions of the
nature I have described in this piece were concerned but, perhaps not
surprisingly, confronted by the challenge of the dichotomy of their allegiance
to the State or the Constitution, Crown Law had no response.
That then being the case, I propose that
this letter be forwarded to the Commissioner of Police to institute, with a
truly independent agency, and with the utmost urgency (the NZ Audit Office being
somewhere in the mix) to lay charges under s. 118 of the Crimes Act
(Contravention of a Statute).
To conclude, it is ironic when corruption
is receiving attention in the present campaign, and not before time, there are
announcements from Government that corruption is suddenly very much on its
radar. Like its reversal on the Crimes Bill (amazing how the homophobia in its
own ranks just disappeared on the eve of a general election!) and the patently
obvious permanent residency ceremony the other day. The smart voter will
quickly recognise the transparency of all these which I am told have already
been greeted with derision on social media.
In its various recent releases, we are
also told that there has been an Anti-Corruption Committee in existence for the
last 11 years and there has been close and useful collaboration among key
Government enforcement agencies. If
that is so, and if it were the least bit effective, why does the smell of
rampart corruption still pervade our society? And it has taken this long to
come up with a draft policy?!
Putting cynicism and gullibility aside
however there are some useful pointers in these MFEM’s publications which do
not help our Prime Minister in any way. Take for example the MFEM policy on
fraud and corruption. The fraud/corruption definition inter alia is any
act or omission, including a misrepresentation, that knowingly or
recklessly misleads, or attempts to mislead, a party to obtain a financial or
other benefit or to avoid an obligation. Would your readers not be
inclined to the view that the constitutional and other failures enumerated
above fit nicely within this definition.
And what about obstructive practices and
the references to making false statements; interfering with disclosure of
information and impeding audit or access to information?
And finally, and of personal interest – Retaliation
against whistle-blowers – which description could well apply to me having
been whistle-blowing for years. Is this where I can now seek redress for
government systematically ruining my egg farming business with its deceptive
claims to be promoting import substitution, GO LOCAL and food security? These
noble and important policies will only succeed if there is a genuine commitment
to them but, like the multiple failures to obey the law by those who govern us,
their selective activation and retributive potential just create false hope,
losses and more distrust.
The MFEM draft media release is inviting
public comment and that these be sent to Dr Jim Gosselin. Well, they now have
mine and I shall be forwarding them to Jim.
John Scott, a former Clerk of Parliament,
is a poultry farmer and runs Scotts Farm in Muri. He has been critical of
Government’s decision to remove import levy on eggs and pork. The views
expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of this