The Cook Islands Herald

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Dec. 10) – Notice how quiet is this Holiday Season? We seem a society that’s been lobotomized, somehow getting through each day like zombies – those of us that have not emigrated, that is. Why is that?

Government at long last agreed to abolish levy, but a few weeks later they flip-flopped, "Instead, we will phase the levies out." Really? That’s what they said ten years ago.

A Cabinet Minister is found guilty of misappropriating public funds and attempting a cover up, however he has appealed and remains on the public payroll.

The Ministry of Works advertises for supplies of domestic housing materials for those left homeless after a cyclone ravaged Pukapuka – 11 months after the cyclone!

A former Minister is caught red-handed selling DVD rip-offs of King Kong, but a Parliament that rarely is in session has never up-dated our copyright laws to include DVDs. Do our laws acknowledge "talkies"?

Government beefs up its Disaster Management Office, but fails to even consider disaster prevention.

A Minister of Finance formed a smart budget advisory committee and was able to push a conservative budget through Parliament. Soon afterwards he is sacked by the Prime Minister for doing so.

In 2006, Avarua will get a new, free Police Station with architecture to rival the Taj Mahal in grandeur. Unfortunately, it’s located smack at the site of the worst cyclone wave threat and will be flattened by the first Big One passing that side.

Numbers of New Zealand tourists rose 226 percent this year over 2001, i.e. from 17,960 to 40,578 persons, but this year’s 5,200 visitors from North America have spent four times more money than the 41,000 tightwads. The Kiwis even bring their own breakfast cereal.

A newly elected coalition announces itself as a "Unity Government" and appoints some capable persons to various Boards. Then, they sack the appointees the first time they don’t do exactly what this Minister or that tells them to do. In one case, the appointees were outed for following Cabinet’s own guidelines.

Parliament forms a Higher Salaries Commission and names sensible people with high integrity to consider Parliament’s pay scale. The Commission concludes that they don’t need a pay raise, so is disbanded and a Tribunal is formed to – guess what – reconsider Parliament’s pay scale.

The economy is taking a nosedive worse than any in memory (ask any hotelier or restaurateur) while a Select Committee of parliament is recommending that businesses pay an additional 1.5 percent of turnover to their underlying landowners. Besides being exorbitant, landowners that have businesses on their land amount to only 3 percent of all landowners. Thus, when every shop raises its prices to compensate, the other 97 percent will have to pay the NZ$4 million [US$2.7 million] per year that this will cost. Meitaki [thank you] much, Select Committee.

After enduring all such insanities for 12 months, we read a Christmas Message by the Leader of the Opposition: "Outward migration continues and we are still seeking answers as to how we can address this problem." We actually don’t think that was intended as a joke. Happy New Year.

January 6, 2006

The Cook Islands Herald: http://www.ciherald.co.ck/Times.htm

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