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Ruta Mave: Where’s the Opposition we deserve?

Monday 18 December 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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Ruta Mave: Where’s the Opposition we deserve?
Parliament of the Cook Islands.

I object – I am an objector. I oppose because I don’t agree. No, I oppose because I am the opposition, writes Ruta Mave.

In a democratic elected government there exists in direct opposite to the those sitting in Government those sitting in Opposition.

Joe Biden the American President represents the Democrat Party. In very vocal opposition are the Republicans, who appear to disagree for the purpose of undermining the Democrat party. Regardless of their intentions, it opens up chambers for robust debate not as eloquent as the Roman forum but nevertheless back and forth discussion occurs.

The purpose of the Opposition in politics is to keep the governing body in check, to question their policies and procedures and ensure the best laws or proposals are created and submitted with a balance, of what the government want to achieve and what the people want to be achieved.

The National government have been a constant voice against the past Labour government’s proposals on three waters, soft sentencing in courts and it appears smokefree New Zealand. Now National are in charge all three are going to be axed – and you can be sure the now opposing Labour Party will have something to say about it. They earn their salaries.

Members of Parliament are elected by the voting people to work on their behalf for better conditions. Opposition members are supposed to stand up for their voting public when the government appears to be pulling the wool over their eyes. The bitter pill is they both are.

If only we had such an opposition sitting in Parliament that would vocally call out, criticise and create discussions on government decisions. Our opposition should be constantly putting forward other options on the table to be discussed for every proposal the government offers. Take the latest from the Prime Minister to add two more members to his Cabinet. This will cost poor taxpayers more than they will ever earn with no guarantee they will successfully deliver.  

Instead, they should oppose and demand present Cabinet Ministers have better skills before they are first given the job and they constantly and actively improve their abilities so they can fulfill the basic tasks of reading and understanding. Then they can create and control the narrative to implement the portfolios they are given.

The Opposition could use this as a platform to call for the reduce number of seats in Parliament especially when the outer islands of small village numbers hold an equal and powerful weight in the decision making, over the majority of people living in larger areas. Oh, but back up the truck that can’t happen because for self-preservation the Opposition only exist because of three villages in Mangaia – one having only 40 voters.

Where was the opposition to the costly waste of $1.7 million for electric cars that are essentially powered by diesel? Where was the Opposition to Members of Parliament using up all the allotted travel funding in the first three months? Oh, whoops that’s right, they are also guilty themselves for using the funds for family and spouses to fly with them and stay in hotels paid for by the taxpayer.

It would almost be acceptable if travelling Members of Parliament brought back the positives of what they discussed or learnt at these expensive conferences in New York and Mongolia to our community. Women’s equity and leadership conferences were attended by women from both sides of the political field so where are the follow up programmes to be implemented and where are the emerging leaders? What a sweet wicket the opposition holds – all the benefits, none of the accountability.

A boat has headed to Pukapuka with a price tag of $640,000 of supposedly government funding. The Leader of the Opposition posed some dialogue towards it which confusingly looks less like Opposition and more like a whining enquiry as to how did you get to do that? And how can I do that for my constituency, so I too can ensure my political ticket on the gravy train is not interrupted.

Scientists say the one thing that has allowed homo sapiens – humans – to advance further than other similar animals like apes is our opposing thumbs. It is the ability to work across in diagonals that allow us to hold tools and weapons more easily. It is the opposing forces that make us a more dynamic and progressive species.

It is the opposition of minds and ideas that can create a brainstorm and environment for growth and progress suitably integrating the wants, needs and desires of a vast cross-section of people.

We need more people to stand up and question and oppose and not accept everything as a given from the government. It is said, if you don’t stand up for something then you will fall for anything.