HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 608: 21 March 2012

News in Brief

Government: Ignorant of downward spiral
As each day comes, another story of despair circulates the Cook Islands. In fact it is now so common that I as Leader of the Opposition gets stopped by people in the shops, at the rugby league games, at the Punanga Nui market, at church and even on my morning walks so that they could tell me their particular experiences. Top of the list is that too many people are leaving our shores and they all say the depletion of our population base is caused by the same reasons. They all say that they have a daughter, niece, nephew, son, an uncle and an aunty leaving for Australia in particular because they could no longer afford to pay their mortgages or to service their debts. And so they should worry, we have probably the highest interest rates in the world when it comes to loans from our local banks barring banana republics.
More importantly, what is the Government doing about it? I can say that it is doing absolutely zilt – nothing of any significance that could stem the flow of blood. It is completely ignorant of the downward spiral that our economy is experiencing. That ignorance is promoted by the Government’s own narrow-mindedness which is characterised by outdated and inflexible policies. Furthermore, the Government appears to falter badly because it is being driven by people whose attitude to life is dependency on aid and outside intervention. Honestly, we have a Government bent on “wishful thinking”.
Well, the Prime Minister is so laid back (well that’s the image he cultivates) that he is perceived as being lazy, a travel bug and therefore a non-caring chief. He comes to life on two issues. The first is “green energy” which has now raised a lot of questions about costs, sustainability and feasibility. The second issue is the Pacific Forum which he is soon to chair because the Cook Islands is the host country. Apart from those two issues, he shows a no “can do” attitude. We in the Opposition say that he has bought into the spiels by foreign countries as to how aid recipient countries should behave on the regional and international political front. In other words the PM behaves in a way not to offend potential donor countries because he and his Cabinet hopes each and every one of those countries comes to our aid – sometimes they do but always with a catch. And aid is not for foundation building, it is only a bandage solution.
The Opposition is now pretty well convinced that this Government has still not come to grasp the fundamentals of what the Cook Islands needs and what needs to be tailored to save a downward spiralling economy. If this slide continues, we will face a crisis of proportions we have never seen before. We are already starting to see the signs of doom. Our international shipping service is being reduced to one monopolistic private service, we have huge debts that we will struggle to service in future years and the Government is now showing a propensity to tax – an obvious thing to do to gain more revenue but it is nothing more than inflicting undue pain on the people of the Cook Islands.
I personally believe this Government is bankrupt of ideas and the Opposition is quite willing to work with the Government and share our ideas with our fellow MP’s on the other side in order to get this country back on track to progress and prosperity. -Wilkie Rasmussen, Laeder of the Opposition

Switch off for our earth
60 minutes for our Islands and 60 minutes for our Earth!
That’s the underlying message this Friday when we join in with the rest of the world to recognize Earth Hour on Friday 30th March with a voluntary ‘lunch-time’ switch off of all non-essential lights and appliances for ONE HOUR ONLY from 12pm-1-pm.
As Prime Minister and Minister for Environment I am in full support of this initiative which is part of our drive for greater awareness and country-driven action against climate change. It is about making our country a ‘leader in the green stakes’.
The aim of Earth Hour is to send a message across the globe that we are all aware and fighting the war against climate change by reducing our energy consumption for ONE HOUR – such a simple action!
And though this Friday’s ‘Earth Hour’ is a kind reminder to switch off and participate in this week’s event, it is also a chance to make a permanent change. We save power/energy which means saving money and our earth! It’s a win-win for all of us!
Here are some simple tips from the National Environment Service to use less energy, save power, save money and save our environment.
• Use natural air and light for cooling and light
• Use your air conditioning unit only if it is really necessary! Switch it off when you don’t need it.
• Switch off lights in rooms that are not in use
• Shut-down PCs at the end of everyday AND weekend!
• Switch off and pull out mobile chargers, etc from the wall when finished with it.
• Appliances on ‘standby mode’ still use electricity
• Choose energy-efficient appliances
• Switch from incandescent to Compact Florescent Light (CFLs)
• Check appliances. e.g. defrost fridges and freezers and increase efficiency
• Use proper waste practices – recycling and composting – NO BURNING!
• Have a ‘no emissions day’ – walk or ride to work if possible.
The challenge is for everyone! Government departments, businesses, schools, sports groups, restaurants, cafes, church groups, hotels, motels, radio stations…we can all join in!
As well as switching off we can get our bodies and help reduce emissions for one day by finding alternative transport to work or school on Friday – walk, cycle, car pool or take public transport.
Joining the National Environment Service this year to organise Earth Hour are the Renewable Energy Development Division (REDD) and the Climate Change Coordinating Unit at the Office of the Prime Minister with support from Te Aponga Uira.
TAU will monitor the electricity load on Friday during Earth Hour to measure how much we have contributed to the global conservation effort.
Earth Hour is a source of inspiration for millions of people taking steps towards a cleaner, safer future. The Cook Islands will be amongst the first in the world to make a contribution on Friday at lunchtime whilst 100 other major cities will follow us and join in for their Earth Hour on Saturday 31st March (which is Friday in the Cook Islands) from 8:30-9:30pm. - Prime Minister Hon. Henry Puna

Samoa shipping service to start Thursday
The Samoan vessel to service the northern group is to set sail from Samoa on Thursday 29 March. Prior to the vessel departing Samoa, Rarotonga Customs will be sent a list of the cargo. Importers in the north will be required to pay levies on goods and Rarotonga Customs are ensuring that personnel in the north are properly authorized to handle the payments. As Samoa has the coconut pest, the Rhinoceros Beetle, the Herald understands a senior Quarantine Officer will be traveling on board to monitor all cargo for pests. Ministry of Health will be overseeing sanitation requirements.

Concert to feature NZ and local talent
Get on down to the National Auditorium this Thursday 29th March and support the Suicide Prevention Awareness and Miss Cook Islands 2012 Fundraiser Concert.
The concert will be featuring New Zealand band SWEET ‘n’ IRIE with their “Bring Home the Love Tour” plus a selection of local talent. The show is set to run for almost 5 hours – with Host Clee Marsters.
SWEET ‘n’ IRIE will also feature at Wednesday’s sneak preview for the Thursday night concert. The talents that have come for the Concert are all well known local musicians based in NZ. “The opportunity to have them altogether in one place is amazing and exciting. This has given us an opportunity to work with them to help create more awareness towards Suicide Prevention Awareness and also support the Miss Cook Islands Pageant 2012. Therefore the more funds that are raised, the more funds are directed to these two causes in the Cook Islands,” says Eirangi Marsters, of the Miss Cook Islands Pageant Association.
There will also be a mini fashion show on the night.
Tickets will be available at the Akaoa Night Market on Wednesday.
Adult tickets are $25 or $15 on the night at the entrance if you wear your R20;Choose LiveR21; T shirt (a youth initiative from the conference that took place recently).
Children 15 years and under are ONLY $5, these tickets can be purchased at the door on the night, or Contact Eirangi 71123, Isa 76329 or Clee 70556 for your tickets.
“It is important for the community to support these types of events as the
benefits spread far and wide throughout the community,” says Eirangi.
There will be food stalls, drinks and the famous Photo Booth waiting for you this Thursday. -Tiare Ponini

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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