HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 599: 18 January 2012

Chance of extended term lost by CIP?
Has the Cook Islands Party (CIP) government blown its chances of calling and winning a snap election?
Why would the government consider a snap election at this point just over a year into its term?
The answer is obvious. When any political party is elected with a healthy majority, consolidates its grip on power and becomes popular, it can call a snap election and gain a further term (four years) to fully implement its policies.
However, it appears that the CIP may have blown its chances due to some unpopular choices, one being the withholding tax. The longer government retains this tax, the less popular it will become.
Followers of the political scene are already saying the CIP is beginning to look more and more like a one term government. The general public is becoming concerned at the amount of overseas travel by Ministers when there are issues and problems at home needing attention. The time has come for Ministers to start politely declining invitations to meetings which result in no direct or tangible benefits to the country.
Of concern to CIP stalwarts must be that just over a year down the track, no real changes have occurred. For example, the recent drought on Rarotonga exposed just how ineffective government’s response was. There is one solution to the water problem and that is to create larger reservoirs. Supplying each household with a water tank is not a solution if the water is just not there in the first place.
Government’s strategy to improve tourism in the outer islands is flawed because no-one except perhaps Tim Tepaki could see that the problem plaguing this strategy is lack of a form of mass transport.
Government should consider funding large construction projects to provide jobs for local trades people. There are government Ministries (Internal Affairs, Marine, PSC, Public Health) which will need new accommodation in the near future so why not start building now? More cash needs to be injected into the local economy and some big construction projects will assist this.
Government needs to raise the minimum wage. This will attract more locals into work and reduce the reliance on foreign labour. The Herald has learnt that some public servants are working night shifts in the private sector to make ends meet.
A concern must also be a weakness at Ministerial Support Office level in policy development and analysis. There is also a lack of depth at this level in the machinery of government. Since the departure of the very experienced George Turia from Minister Bishop’s Support Office, this weakness will become more apparent and expect errors to occur as Turia was the one person other Minister’s CEO’s consulted for advice in developing policy, writing Cabinet reports and undertaking policy analysis. While Ministers do have staff in Ministries who can provide policy advice, lack of depth of experience means Ministers will no longer receive the critical analysis they previously enjoyed from their support staff of submissions from Ministries. Government will come to realize in time that persons with Turia’s skills are very hard to find, even in NZ.
While the next election is still three years away, it is known that some MPs are already thinking and talking about the next election as though it was just around the corner.
With ongoing depopulation, some MPs especially outer island MPs will be concerned that their support base is eroding. Some MPs may now be eying up safe seats elsewhere but first they must contend with the incumbents especially if those incumbents change their mind about retiring or vacating the seat. -Charles Pitt

Herald Issue 554 09 March
- Norm exposes Trio of Doom
- Briefs from PM’s media conference Tuesday
- Tourism Industry ponders $5 million draft strategy
- Norman George resigns from Cook Islands Party
- Letter of Resignation from CIP
- Norman selfish says Prime Minister

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