New Cook Islands political party emerges
New approach to politics planned in the Cook Islands with the emergence of a new political force.
A former Cook Islands cabinet minister is forming a new political organisation to fight the upcoming election.
Teina Bishop parted ways with the Government of Henry Puna last month at the time it was announcing plans to bring the election forward by seven months.
Mr Bishop, a former marine resources minister, has been under police investigation for alleged bribery and corruption over his connection to fishing company, Huanan Fishery.
He says he has no concerns about and that his new political movement, Cook Islands One, will take a new approach to politics.
Mr Bishop spoke with Don Wiseman and began by saying what lay behind his sudden exit from the Cook Islands Party.
TEINA BISHOP: I resigned from the Cabinet and then they kicked me out of the party machine.
DON WISEMAN: Why did you resign from Cabinet?
TB: I was just sick of the nonsense. I wasn't consulted about the dissolution of Parliament and I was accused of going to join the Democratic Party and become the prime minister.
DW: Was there any truth in that?
TB: Absolute nonsense. You don't change a government during an election year and I have no intention of being a prime minister at this stage. I voted for our prime minister.
DW; So you were surprised and shocked to be dumped from the Party?
TB: Yes (laughs) One thing you have got to understand. I am the longest serving Cook Islands Party member in government. For them to question my loyalty to the Party - I find it bizarre.
DW: Is any of it coming back to this investigation into your involvement with Huanan?
TB: No, I've thrown that investigation out of my head [and] I'm waiting to see what happens. I'm prepared to do whatever happens, but my conscience is clear and I'm not letting that cloud my way and that was in no way a reason for what I did.
DW: So you're saying there's no illegality?
TB: No, but of course that's for the court to decide.
DW: Alright, so you're setting up what you call a "political movement", Cook Island One, why are you characterising it as a political movement rather than a party?
TB: I'm limiting the candidacy of our movement at eight because our intention is not to get the thirteen to establish a government but rather a supporting group of the government of the day, whichever government comes.
DW: From time to time there's been a third party in Cook Island politics but it's never done that well has it?
TB: No, but in this movement what I've done is I've taken the aims and objectives of the Cook Islands Party and the objectives of the Democratic Party and those are our aims and objectives in the movement, therefore it's nothing new.
DW: So you'll always ally with the government in power?
TB: That's correct.
DW: As an amalgam of the two parties you'll be the ultimate middle of the road organisation?
TB: Yes, that's correct. However, you've got to understand that in this movement we're not going to set up the structure of whereby there's a typical party, there's a leader and everybody has to bow down to that system, I believe the party politics system is actually not conducive to our way of life today.
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