NIUEANS EMBARRASSED BY PREMIER LAKATANI’S COMMENTS ON GOVERNANCE

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ALOFI, Niue (October 22, 2001 Niue Economic Review)---A group of Niueans say they were embarrassed by comments made at a weekend state dinner by Premier Sani Lakatani in front of the Governor General of New Zealand and Niue, Dame Silvia Cartwright, and New Zealand government leaders.

The Premier, in a speech to the invited guests who had joined the islanders celebrating 100 years of political association with New Zealand, said Niue will go ahead with or without help from New Zealand.

He had the day before expressed frustration at talks over Niue and New Zealand's constitutional future but praised Wellington, the former territorial administrator, for being "kind, tolerant and generous to Niue since annexation in 1901."

Last week on Radio Australia, the Premier blamed New Zealand for "failing to provide adequate assistance for the island's economic development."

Opposition MP O'Love Jacobsen said she was concerned that the Premier would make such comments and was sending out the wrong signals.

Common roll MP Terry Coe, a former Cabinet Minister, said the comments made by the Premier were contrary to what senior government members want for Niue and it was improper for the Premier to push the independence line at a state function with influential New Zealand dignitaries present.

Several other prominent members in the community said they value the association with New Zealand and it was unrealistic to think residents would back total independence, which the Premier now seems to be advocating.

"People here have already said they want to retain self government in free association with New Zealand and it’s up to our elected representatives to express our desires and reach an agreement with New Zealand over future support.

"What the Premier said the other night is not helping the situation. It’s taking us down a path of political suicide," said an elderly resident.

 

NIUE FUTURE DECISIONS AWAIT ELECTIONS

ALOFI, Niue (October 23, 2001 - Niue Economic Review/PINA Nius Online)---Any major decisions about Niue's future constitutional association with New Zealand are likely to be put on hold until after March's general election.

Premier Sani Lakatani made that clear at a Flag Day speech in Alofi after he indicated frustration at previous discussions with New Zealand, saying Niueans desire to have total control over their own destiny.

New Zealand is in the process of selecting a consultant to examine a number of suggestions in a Constitutional Review committee paper, which include Niueans having pay parity and welfare benefits equal to those Niueans resident in New Zealand.

Political observers on Niue say the island government is under mounting pressure to implement a new form of local governance and step aside from the costly, inefficient 20-member Legislative Assembly.

Commentators also say that if Niue wants to have greater independence it needs to develop some realistic economic strategies; stop spending and start saving.

For additional reports from the Niue Economic Review, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Magazines/Journals/Niue Economic Review.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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