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Govt mum on details of new security policy

Thursday 18 May 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Economy, National

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The Government is keeping tight-lipped over details of a new national security policy.

In a statement released to Cook Islands News on Wednesday, it was revealed that at a Cabinet session held on May 9, Prime Minister Mark Brown submitted the first Cook Islands National Security Policy, which was subsequently approved.

It will be formally launched in mid-June this year at a regional workshop to be held in Rarotonga.

When Cook Islands News asked for details or a copy of the policy, it was told this would have to wait until next month.

In the statement, Brown said the Cook Islands National Security Policy reflects the country’s fundamental national values, including respect for the rule of law and basic human rights and norms as well as promotion of good governance principles.

In the statement, Brown emphasised that the Cook Islands view national security concerns differently than how the United States, Australia and others view national security. 

“For us, national security is about economic security and climate security,” he said.

“This policy has been prepared to support the goals, objectives and actions set out in other national policies, especially Te Ara Akapapa’anga Nui: The National Sustainable Development Agenda 2020+ (NSDA 2020+) and the Economic Development Strategy 2030 (EDS 2030).”

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Strategy 2019-2024 – Te Kaveinga Kōutu Mana Tūtara o Te Ipukarea stresses two strategic outcomes – Good Governance and National Security & Resilience.

The National Security Division (NSD) is the most recent addition to the OPM structure that was adopted under the strategy.

With funding assistance from the Australia-Pacific Security College/Australian National University, the OPM contracted lead consultant, Dr Jim Gosselin, and support consultant, Dr Mark Crossweiller, to carry out this work overseen by NSD director Maara Tetava.

Consultations were conducted with government officials and security experts in New Zealand and the Cook Islands, as well as with the public sector and community stakeholders on Rarotonga. 

A consultation workshop was also held online for Pa Enua representatives via Zoom.

Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Ben Ponia commended National Security Division director Tetava and his team for their excellent work in pulling this policy together.

“It is a well-balanced approach which takes into account the special circumstances of the Cook Islands,” Ponia said.

“This will become a significant piece of governing policy as we attempt to navigate the critical national security challenges that lie ahead of us.”