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When will we have a DPM?

Monday September 02, 2013 Published in Smoke Signals

“When will the prime minister announce who will be the deputy prime minister?” a smoke signaller asks in a text to 188.

“The reluctance to name one of his ministers is a sign of indecision on the part of the PM which is not a good trait for the person holding the top political position in the land. There are two ministers who are suitable for the position, Teariki Heather or Mark Brown, so why the delay? Another contender would be Teina Bishop who is very charming, except for the small matter of being under the cloud of alleged improper business dealings with a fishing tycoon. Then there is Nandi Glassie who could be a good choice except it would cause an imbalance if both top jobs in Cabinet were to go to the pa enua [outer islands].” SS: A little over 58 per cent of the 24 MPs in Parliament are from the pa enua; 10 from the Southern Group and four from the Northern Group, with 10 MPs from Rarotonga.

“There’s no change at the Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee,” a smoke signaller writes. “According to the front page of Saturday’s CI News there are seven athletes and nine officials attending the Mini Games. Given there are three sailors (with one team manager) and three athletes (again with one team manager), seems like a lot of extra officials along for the ride. And it appears that the taxpayer has yet again been conned into paying for them. Wishing the competitors all the best, and the freeloaders a great holiday.”

Responding to yesterday’s article about the $256 million net profit before taxation of New Zealand’s national carrier, a smoke signaller writes: “Wow, Air New Zealand must be happy with the amount of travelling this government does, helping the airline to its big profit. Keep it up Cook Islands Party, make the most of it, your days are numbered!”

“All the talk of excessive travel by the Prime Minister is correct but could we also have scrutiny of public servants who travel just as much, perhaps even more than the PM. Over the years I have heard top public servants boasting of how far abroad they have travelled and how often. And they ensure they go and hardly ever suggest another colleague to go instead which shows it’s not for capacity building but for social networking and angling for top regional jobs.”

A smoke signaller asks: “Who will be appointed foreign minister? Mark Brown has finance as well as internal affairs and sports and now seabed minerals, which is more than enough portfolios to deal with. Nandi Glassie has given up agriculture so could do with an extra challenge. Teariki Heather would be worthy but disdains frequent travel, preferring to get on with his workload. In my opinion Teina Bishop is out of the picture because of an investigation. However the person that it cannot or should not be is the Prime Minister. It is just not protocol for a PM to act as his own foreign minister, even on a purely temporary basis. Think Helen Clark and Phil Goff, or John Key and Murray McCully.”

“The tutaka [health inspection] continues to be to a large degree all fluff and no substance,” a smoke signaller writes. “Behind a tyre bay in Avarua is a mountain of old tyres – been there for years – breeding mozzies by the billion.”

A smoke signaller writes: “Saturday’s front page article about Norman George ‘wining’ his case relating to the right to freedom of association does not mean he’s in the clear. The court has already declared he is still a Cook Islands party member of parliament not having validly resigned according to the CIP rules. He maintains he is not a CIP; if that is so, get on with the resignation and the seat can be declared vacant and a by-election called. Of course that will probably not happen because the PM lacks the fortitude to go down that track in case Norman wins the seat anyway. On the other hand, his electorate may have had enough of his antics – but put it to the test. Instead the PM makes a pathetic statement that he ‘welcomed the decision’ and looks forward to Norm’s support! Perhaps the PM was merely being facetious to goad Norman but in my opinion some see electoral survival as being more important than principles or the rule of law.”

A rugby fan texts to 188: “A former All Black is someone who should be a role model to our young. By acting a fool Jerry Collins you are a disgrace to New Zealand and an embarrassment.”

“The ruling that the amendment to the Electoral Act to prevent party hopping is held ‘incompatible’ with the right to freedom of association in our constitution, does not mean open slather in parliament,” a smoke signaller texts to 188. “It is a longstanding convention that if members of parliament from the ruling party vote against their own budget or against their own leader in the house, that is tantamount to a vote of no confidence and can trigger a snap general election because a prime minister is entitled to dissolve parliament in such circumstances if he so desires. Party coups in caucus could be a different matter and theoretically it is possible to roll a party leader even if he is the PM. That occurred in Australia in the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard stoush. However, that backroom move lost the Labour Party much electoral support. Eventually Rudd amazed everyone when he recently regained his position as PM and is preparing for their upcoming elections.”

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