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January 18, 2000

(As printed in this week's issue of the Cook Islands Star)

As Prime Minister of our beautiful country I greet all Cook Islands Star readers with a huge "Kia Orana" for the new millennium.

A big apology also for not providing you with our column over the last few weeks. But here we are firing on all pistons and I pray for all of you to read and understand what my Government is trying to do for our country and people.

Sometimes the media, including the Cook Islands Star, can be reckless with their representations of Government actions and statements. And that can be disruptive. However, the media is wrong to think that it can strong-arm the Government into actions the media defines.

I think it is a fair description of Government to say that it is a machine. Once a decision is made, the rule-bound process of implementation turns over virtually on its own. In my eyes, I see that as the process of accountability, which must in fact be defined and re-defined time and time again.

I am old enough not to suffer any illusions that once the good tidings of becoming Government wear over, I, as PM, must deal with everyday reality of governing well. Heading a good Government doesn't mean I have to win awards for popularity or for kindness. It means I have to govern according to the Terms of References set by my party and indeed by the Coalition Agreement between my party and the New Alliance Party. Regretfully, some people will get hurt because of decisions Government will make, but that is reality.

I read with interest the last column by ex-Prime Minister Sir Geoffery Henry. He is at his shocking hypocritical best at accusing me of sacking people. All one has to do is look at his record – 3,000 people lost their jobs and he says he's innocent. Get real.

You will also hear him say he was responsible for the turn around of the economy - no way! He was actually forced by the New Zealand Government and Aid agencies to action certain very simple economic measures which Sir Geoffrey with a casual wave of the arm rejected. In doing so he dug a big hole for him and for our people.

My Government is moving very carefully. We are taking in the advice of a number of experts helping us. We wish to put into place a socially, caring Government not a cold heartless one, driven only by the economic goals of the few. So watch us and keep an eye out on this spot.

Lastly, a note to the editor and publisher of the Cook Islands Star. Bear in mind that this column is volunteered, not compelled. It helps sell your paper. Government can at any time cease submitting one if the reciprocity from the Cook Islands Star assumes the nature of threats, intimidation, mockery and misrepresentation.

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