COOK ISLANDS NEWS – Thursday October 08, 2020 Written by Emmanuel Samoglou and Rashneel Kumar
The makeup of Prime Minister Mark Brown’s Cabinet since taking office last week has been revealed.
Prime Minister Mark Brown holds a “staggering” 17 portfolios in the new Cabinet make-up.
As part of the government shakeup, Brown remains Minister of Finance – a role he has held onto for roughly a decade since entering politics in 2010 – and inherits the bulk of former prime minister Henry Puna’s portfolio, including the role of Attorney General and Foreign Affairs and Immigration.
His expansive list of responsibilities includes Energy and Renewable Energy, Outer Islands, Public Service Commission, Police, Marine Resources, Seabed Minerals and Natural Resources, Cook Islands Investment Corporation, Financial Supervisory Commission, Financial Services Development Authority, Telecommunications, Audit/ Public Expenditure Review Committee, Head of State and Cook Islands National Superannuation.
Office of the Prime Minister spokesperson Jaewynn Mckay said it is anticipated the PM will redistribute some responsibilities under his portfolio at a later time.
Last night Opposition leader Tina Browne questioned the allocation: “The new PM says he’s ‘excited with the potential of his Cabinet…’ and then gives himself a staggering 17 portfolios, which is a huge signal just how much confidence he has in the ‘potential’ of his Cabinet colleagues.”
“PM Brown has probably set a new Cook Islands record, for the most number of portfolios ever held by a prime minister. He has given himself a huge load to keep up with and the challenge going forward is that whether these ministries will get the attention they need to deliver the required outputs.”
Following his swearing-in as Cabinet minister last week, Murienua MP Patrick Arioka will oversee the Tourism ministry – previously held by Puna – and the Business Trade and Investment Board, which was held by Tupapa-Maraerenga MP George Angene prior to the reshuffle.
Angene retains Corrective Services, Culture, and the House of Ariki portfolios, and will also be minister in charge of Punanga Nui Market
Recently-appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Penrhyn MP Robert Tapaitau holds onto Infrastructure Cook Islands, National Environment Services, Outer Islands Special Projects, and Transport.
Teenui-Mapumai MP Rose Toki-Brown retains Health, Justice, Parliamentary Services, and Agriculture.
Nikao MP Vaine (Mac) Mokoroa takes over Education and retains Internal Affairs, Sport, and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Tina Browne said: “I note also that PM Brown is saying the ‘interests and skill set’ of Cabinet ministers were matched with their respective portfolios, so the question arises, why wasn’t Mac Mokoroa, with his extensive police background, given the Police portfolio? Mr Mokoroa has been under-utilised with his portfolio allocation.
“I understand that minister Patrick Arioka has considerable skills in internet technology so it would have made sense to allocate him with the portfolio of Telecommunications.”
“The Democratic Party Opposition Caucus wishes the new Cabinet the very best and hope that they serve the Cook Islands people with integrity, honour and aroa.”
PM Brown also announced the appointment of three associate ministers – Te Hani Brown (Internal Affairs and Health), Albert Nicholas (Cook Islands Investment Corporation) and Tingika Elikana (Justice, Finance and Economic Management and Foreign Affairs and Immigration).