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Farewell to Old Fono

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The 16th Niue Assembly effectively came to end this afternoon thus clearing the way for the island to elect new representatives on Saturday 30th May.

As to be expected there was not much business on the Order Paper but the House was ready to receive the report from the Public Accounts Committee. The Committee was charged with looking at the Supplementary Budget and the report from the Auditors.

It may be because that this was the final session before the Assembly was dissolved, but for once the report from PAC had some substance. In presenting the report PAC Chair Maureen Melekitama began by reminding all public servants that they must appear before the Committee if they were summoned, leading to the speculation that some were and didn’t.  She then went on to deliver the closest thing to a reprimand for the government for its poor performance in the keeping of the nation’s financial records.

In considering the Supplementary Budget – which incidentally had already been passed by the Assembly – PAC questioned the validity of Cabinet’s decision for other government agencies to administer the funds rather than The Treasury.

All recommendations by PAC will now be the responsibility of a new committee in the new Assembly.

There were a couple of ‘eye-brow raising moments’ in the session. One came when Common Roll member O’love Jacobsen suggested that the whole audit saga, more so for SOEs be referred to the NZ Serious Fraud Office. The suggestion was not taken up by other members, probably because most would know that the SFO has no jurisdiction on the island.

The other was the announcement – perhaps not totally unexpected – by the Premier Sir Toke Talagi that he will be offering himself again.  It was somewhat difficult to hear clearly what the Premier was saying but here is an attempt to transcribe what he said in Vagahau:

           Ko e vili hane fai a tautolu, ti manako au ke ole kehe tau tagata he motu ke vili mai kia au mo e haaku a matakau. Kuenaia e mena haaku ne manako ke tala ki ai. Ko e matakau haaku tuga he iloa e mutolu, malolo a lautolu he gahua, maeke e tau mena ha lautolu ne taute, fai tupe e kautu, ti lahi e fiafia haaku he maeke ia lautolu ke taute e tau fekau ke lata ai mo e kautu ha tautolu.

Ka manako foki a mutolu ke fai tala foki au ke he taha mena foki, nakai. Mole tai e magaaho ia, ko e mogo ia ha nai ke tala ke he vili.

Ko e tau mena ha mutolu ne tala he aho nai, fano ke he pulagi, ai fai tuaga.

In the absence of any farewell speeches from any of the sitting members, it seems that all will be offering themselves again as candidates come 30 May.

………..

Translation of Premier’s statement:

          We are going to the polls and I want to ask the people of the island to vote for me and for my team. That’s all I really wanted to say. As you know, my team is hard working, they are successful in what they do, there is money in the coffers and I am very happy that they are able to do the work for our nation.

If you were expecting hear me talk about something else today, forget it. The time for talking has passed, it’s now time to vote.

All those issues you raised today are with the wind.

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