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Spruce up at Opposition office

Saturday 24 February 2018 | Published in Politics

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Spruce up at Opposition office
Hard at work on improving the opposition office. 18022334

The Opposition Office is getting a makeover in anticipation of New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s Pacific Mission arrival to Rarotonga on March 6.

Opposition chief executive Wilkie Rasmussen said that the impending arrival gave them the perfect chance to clean up the place.

“We wanted to receive her in the best light possible, so we decided to clean up this place and have it done properly,” Rasmussen said.

“The opposition have been here over the past eight years, so we thought it was time for a clean-up.”

When Ardern arrives in the country, she is expected to have a sit down with opposition leaders to discuss a number of issues.

“I understand the prime minister’s delegation will be herself and deputy prime minister Winston Peters, as well as advisors and other MPs.

“For us it will be Opposition leader William ‘Smiley’ Heather, Democratic Party leader Tina Browne, and the opposition deputy leader James Beer, as well as other MPs that are on Rarotonga at the time.”

One of the main issues that they will be focusing on is an electoral commission for political reform purposes.

“It is the view of the Democratic Party that in order to achieve political reform, and have things done, it’s probably best to create a commission where it’s totally independent from the MPs.

“Then it can be able to deal with the issues that naturally become conflict of interest for MPs when they deal with political reform.”

Rasmussen said that some MPs would not agree to a reduction in seats, as that would take away a particular constituency’s representation, which is why an electoral commission was necessary.

Chief Justice Hugh Williams, who has also served as the New Zealand electoral commission president, said that in New Zealand it was independent, away from Parliament when deciding the boundaries, which is something that Rasmussen hopes to emulate.

“What we’re asking is if we can have a similar set up here and have someone chair it from New Zealand, so that will be the major one for us.”

When asked if he hoped that they wouldn’t be able to enjoy the benefits of the clean offices for too much longer, with the election upcoming, he laughed.

“The hopeful thinking is that we clean it up for the other guys to come in and we will take over the government offices,” Rasmussen smiled.