Cook Islands Court Rules Against Opposition Attempt To Declaring MP's Seat Vacant

Democratic Party wanted Nicholas to lose seat over defection to government party  

By Rashneel Kumar

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, March 8, 2017) – The ruling against the Opposition’s attempt to declare vacant his parliamentary seat is a morale booster for his team in their efforts to continue serving his constituency, says Albert Nicholas.

Last week, the Cook Islands High Court dismissed an attempt to declare vacant Nicholas’ RAPPA constituency seat, saying the move could never have succeeded on the facts.

Internal Affairs minister Nicholas, who won the seat under Democratic Party banner, reiterated to the CI News that his team and supporters’ decision for him to join the Cook Islands Party-led government was in an effort to serve his people better.

And he said the Opposition’s legal action against him affected their ability to deliver the services to his people.

“It was a bit of a disturbing time for us, not for me personally. I didn’t really worry too much about myself. What was disturbing was the effect the case was having on our ability to deliver services that we had guaranteed to provide,” Nicholas said.

“The result that has come out over the last couple of days has bought comfort and is a confidence booster because it pretty much guarantees us the ability to keep working and moving forward.”

Nicholas said his team had carried out a number of successful projects to help improve the lives of people in his constituency. One of the programmes his team had initiated two years ago was helping the elderly through food grants. This included delivery of cartons of chicken to households in need.

“This is something that has never been done before as long as I can recall. That is a milestone in itself,” he said.

“A carton of chicken to other people might be a small thing, but I guarantee you to the family that is receiving it, it is a big deal.”

Other areas his team has been working on through the help of government agencies include fixing the bridges, addressing the road issues, among other infrastructural issues such as water supply at homes up in the highlands in Avatiu.

Nicholas said he had also managed to help set up five small businesses in their community since joining the government.

He said they were also getting requests from households outside of their constituency to help them with their issues.

“I must say with us being in this position at the moment has made things a lot easier to do as opposed to being whinging and whining every day and not getting anywhere,” Nicholas said.

“My father spent his whole political life in Opposition. He spent over 10 years fighting for things he never got done.

“Those are the lessons I have had to learn. I am quite fortunate that I haven’t had to learn the hard way. Obviously my Dad had done all the hard learning and I just had to make sense of it and make hard decisions from that point on.”

Nicholas said politicians needed to let go of “old school politics” and focus more on serving the people they represent in the parliament.

“There was an argument by members of the previous party I was with when I moved across, that I needed to serve those who voted for me in the community, for those who put the tick beside my name.

“Less than a quarter voted for me, less than a quarter voted for John and there was a substantial number of individuals who didn’t vote at all.

“So do I only serve the quarter that supported me and disregard everybody else? I don’t think so. I think that’s old school politics.”

Regarding plans for next elections, Nicholas said it was still early days, adding he will consult his team before making a decision.

Cook Islands News
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