COOK ISLANDS GOVERNMENT: RESTORING DIGNITY AND INTEGRITY

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By Alex Sword

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (November 25, 1999 – Cook Islands News)---"A fundamental objective of the Coalition Government is to restore dignity and integrity in Government and Parliament, both here in Cook Islands and abroad," says new Prime Minister, Dr. Terepai Maoate.

Speaking during yesterday morning's meeting at the National Auditorium with traditional, community and church leaders, the Democratic Alliance Party/New Alliance Party government leader added, "We acknowledge that under the last government the Cook Islands has lost respect aboard and from its own people."

RESPECT

He explained that is why the new government coalition government will among other things do the following:

- Establish a Code of Conduct and strict standards of honesty and integrity for all parliamentarians and senior government officials

- Establish a clear policy of dismissal for any government official or Member of Parliament who is drunk or behaves in a manger unbecoming of his role as a representative of the people of the Cook Islands

- Strengthen the role of the Public Expenditure Review Committee & Audit's (PERCA) role as a watchdog on the expenditure of public finance.

WHO ARE WE?

Dr. Maoate told the meeting that the value-loaded issue of "Who are we?" is something intangible but also the heartbeat of the future.

He said, "It is the cultural identity element in each child in the Cook Islands. It is the spiritual life of the Cook Islands. It is each person in the Cook Islands. It is where families have the confidence to be [in] the safest place in the world."

The Prime Minister said, "I hope in thinking about the issues that I have raised you will not only tell us in the months ahead what you think we should do, you will have the confidence to say who should lead and how they should lead."

He also told the meeting, "It is my Government's view that our traditional community and religious leaders represent the conscience of our country. Unlike the private sector, the profit motive and self-interest do not motivate you."

For additional reports from the Cook Islands News Online, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Cook Islands News Online.

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