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‘Last term’ for United Party leader

Monday 18 July 2022 | Written by Caleb Fotheringham | Published in National, Politics

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‘Last term’ for United Party leader
Cook Islands United Party leader Teariki Heather. Photo: SUPPLIED

A former key government figure leading a new political party at the upcoming general election will retire if he doesn’t get voted in.

Cook Islands United Party leader Teariki Heather says this will be his last term if he gets into Parliament.

Heather said he would not run again so younger people could take his place. The former deputy prime minister with the Cook Islands Party government is aiming for his fourth term in Parliament. He is contesting for the Murienua seat held by CIP’s Patrick Arioka.

In its manifesto, the United Party has outlined its plan to implement a policy that Members of Parliament can only spend two terms.

Heather said in the past young people had been denied the opportunity to enter Parliament.    

“In the past you have got a history of Members of Parliament being in there for more than 30 years, 20 years, three terms in Parliament I think that’s too long.

“You go out there and serve two terms that’s enough time.

“I will lead the Party now for the sake of this country and then there’s some competent ones in the United Party that are able and capable to lead.”

Heather said the Cook Islands had enough people for MPs to serve a maximum of two terms.

Another one of the Party’s policies is to decrease the number of imports into the country.

Heather said the economy could not grow by bringing in imports because processing the goods offshore could be cheaper. 

“It’s denying the opportunity for others to create any business they want to create here,” he said.

Heather said his Party would introduce an import levy on certain goods.

The United Party leader was also critical of the cannabis referendum put forward by the governing Cook Islands Party.

The referendum will take place alongside the general election on August 1 and ask: “Should we review our cannabis laws to allow for research and medical use?”

The referendum is non-binding which means no laws will directly change from how people vote.

Heather said he thought it was the wrong timing and was a political move by the Cook Islands Party.

“The people have not been widely consulted on the benefits or whatever. I think the process needs to be consulted with the people first, then they will put it in the referendum.

“It’s the wrong timing, not now.”

However, Heather said he was also concerned about children if cannabis was legalised in any way.

He said the introduction of the referendum would also tell young people it would be ok for it to be legalised.

“By legalising it not only for medicinal purposes, it sort of creates the freedom for households, but my concern is the little ones.

“I’m concerned about our young people ... to be addicted to that, God knows what happens to the future of this country.”