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Formation of a Cook Islands Government of national unity heads Opposition parliamentary leader Rose Brown’s “top 10” list of actions she would take if the opposition coalition came into power.
The MP for the Atiu constituency of Teenui-Mapumai says a government of national unity would be made up of MPs from multiple parties – and she says she seriously believes it’s the kind of government Cook Islanders want.
Brown says “political favouritism” has been very bad for the Cook Islands and she wants to see it finished.
“I am saddened by the continuing employment by both of the main parties of people who are ‘political favourites’ – and not the best people for the jobs they are given.”
“Personally, I would like to see MPs from all sides join a government of national unity. The political parties would remain as they are. I see no difference between the parties, so we must all work together.
“Religion and culture are important to us, so we must further embrace these principles.”
High on Brown’s list of things she says a government of national unity could achieve discussions with the Aronga Mana (traditional leaders) to establish their priorities.
“We will invite them to our discussions on large projects and we must listen and follow their guidance.”
Urgent action is also needed on the controversial purse seine fishing issue and the establishment fishing exclusion zones within the Marae Moana marine park, Brown says.
A government of national unity would be guided on these issues by discussions with the Aronga Mana, she adds.
“We would review the rules and decide whether or not we want foreign fishing. We would also review the commercial fishing exclusion zones with the stakeholders.
“Up until two Budgets ago, government did not need the $10 million (US$6.9 million) that is now to be received from fishing each year. But now they say they do need the money. So the only explanation is that government costs and wages must have risen.
“The people and the Aronga Mana want purse seining stopped, and they are very vocal about it to the point of asking the court for an injunction, which has yet to be decided.
“The CIP government does not want purse seining stopped and they ignored the 4000 signatures on the purse seining petition. Therefore, I believe, the current government position is purely political.”
Brown says fish are more important than the money and a government of national unity would hold a national referendum on the purse seining and fishing issues, with the result to be legally binding on the government.
The opposition parliamentary leader has also called for a restructuring of government and the Budget, as well as a review of wages and the employment of consultants and policy advisers.
She also has the boards of government entities in her sights, saying entities must be made up of competent people, including members of the business community.
And in a move that’s bound to be popular with many taxpayers, Brown is pushing for a review of all government travel, adding that it will be “reviewed downwards.”
A government of national unity would also target health issues, Brown says, especially obesity and NCDs. “It is important that we improve our healthcare services. Recently Dr George Ngaei suggested that we increase the Health budget to five per cent of GDP. I agree that we should consider an increase of up to five per cent.
“The present situation, where we sometimes run out of basic medicines especially in the outer islands, is just not good enough.”
A government of national unity would make an arrangement with the airlines whereby air points accrued by politicians would go towards referring patients to New Zealand, Brown says.
SOURCE: COOK ISLANDS NEWS/PACNEWS
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