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Date Posted: 02:06:52 10/07/05 Fri
Author: Tere Carr
Subject: Daring to attack a political system in the Cooks
5th October 2005
To whom it may concern
Having just read your editorial on the threat to Cook Is Land Tenure system, I take offence at your writers’ insinuation that the GPC (Group for Political Change) is somehow responsible (by its silence) for this Bill being potentially passed as legislation. The fact is the GPC is made up of 2 women who for a time dared to attack a political system that is self-serving and corrupt. For 2 years prior to our last election in Sept 2004 we did voter education on air and through newspaper articles at our own expense hoping that Cook Islanders would wake up and challenge a political system that looks after MPs and their supporters at the expense of the health and education of our people. Come election time, however, and our people voted for the status quo to remain and so the corruption, horse-trading and back room deals continue.
But at least the GPC through its efforts got rid of the corrupt MP Superannuation Scheme set up by MPs for MPs which saw public funds of $500,000 a year being diverted to cover the inadequate scheme. At least we saw the "Overseas Seat" which had cost the country millions of dollars since its inception abolished. That’s more than some can claim.
As to the tabling of the current Unit Titles Bill in Parliament, while the 2-woman GPC have previously spoken out about such issues, the fact is other Cook Islanders need to do the same too. Many times in the past when we felt Cook Islanders supported reform a quick look behind us would confirm that many had faded into the woodwork. Truth is many Cook Islanders (including journalists) depend on the scraps dished out by MPs to ever change things politically and to do so would be financial suicide for some. Combined with that is the fact that the lone voice continually speaking out against government corruption just doesn’t pay the bills and after a time can sound a bit whine-ey.
Personally I wrote in opposition re Unit Titles Bill to the Select Committee but as usual only a handful of Cook Islanders made written submissions (attached). Now the Bill is being tabled "people power" is being sought to overturn it and I like many others have signed the petition and are hopeful that it will delay the enactment of the Bill until all loopholes etc. are plugged and landowners rights are fully protected. Its success however, at being enacted in parliament should not be blamed on the GPC for failing to speak out, but rather, it should be directed at the mindset of a nation who like its MPs believe that money will flow like water once the Bill is passed.
Sad as it may be, the loss of our ancestral lands to foreigners may be the one thing that serves as a wake-up call for our people, but not before I fear, it is too late.
Mrs Tere Carr
of the Group for Political Change (GPC) and Cook Islander
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