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The SPINN #1 - The Cabinet Can Do More to Ensure Accountability

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Year 18 | 07 August 2020

THE SPINN
THE CABINET CAN DO MORE TO ENSURE ACCOUNTABILITY
James D. Halpert | Senior Editor

THE WEEK'S HIGHLIGHTS

Volaworand, Drystar and Auphelia have won the most votes in the two rounds of the Local Council election.

The High Court has issued an injunction to prevent the certification of the Local Council election results, pending a ruling on the case on the rights of Special Forces members to vote in Local Council elections.

The Special Forces been deployed to South Pacific (different from the South Pacific), a partner region that is under occupation from The Black Hawks.

We are nearing the end of the second term of the current Nakari Cabinet, which makes it an excellent point to assess what has been done well, what has been done badly, and what could be improved. Nakari seems to have taken the office of Prime Minister, following the example set by their predecessors, as that of a facilitator and behind-the-scenes coordinator, which means that not much will necessarily be heard from them as opposed to the individual ministers, but there are still some promises that were made on behalf of the whole Cabinet, particularly relating to accountability and transparency.

Nakari made a number of campaign promises in terms of public reporting and interaction with members of the region:

1. Update the Cabinet Twitter thread at least once a week, sharing those updates also on Discord and the RMB.

2. Use the Government Island region to post government updates and answer questions from the public.

3. Hold regular AMA sessions onsite and offsite.

The truth is that these promises have not been kept for the most part. Cabinet Twitter has not seen any updates since May 2020, during the government of Prime Minister Roavin. Government Island has not been used for Cabinet-wide reports or to answer questions from the public; in fact, the region has not been significantly promoted since its creation, so most South Pacificans have little way of knowing that there is a simple way for them to reach out to the Cabinet. There have also been no AMA sessions or other special opportunities for legislators and citizens to ask questions to their elected officials.

There are some positive points for individual ministers. The Ministry of Regional Affairs does much of its work in public, and so people can notice when a festival is held or a new issue of the Southern Journal is published. The Ministry of Military Affairs has been publishing weekly reports on its operations and collaboration with foreign partners, publishing them on the forum and in Government Island. Individual ministries have been communicating their work and letting the more politically aware members know what their elected officials are doing so far in the term. Still, collective accountability and transparency is an area where Cabinets tend to struggle. The Prime Minister explained the issue when asked for comment, saying that "I totally dropped the ball with twitter - it seemed unnecessary with how great the cabinet ministers have been at posting their own stuff".

Why is this important? The Cabinet is elected individually, but they work collectively and make important decisions behind the scenes. This is good: individual ministers have their own agendas and certain decisions simply cannot be made in public. However, this means that the public is often unaware of what agenda, if any, the Cabinet has as a whole for the region. The Prime Minister can let the region know the Cabinet's goals for the term, what policies are being implemented, what challenges the region is facing and what steps are being taken to address them. These actions have to be proactive: the Cabinet cannot wait for someone to ask, they have to go out and let the region know what is being done.

As the Cabinet approaches the second half of its term, it should take this time to assess the things that they have done well -constant activity from the MoRA, weekly reports from the Special Forces- and apply that experience to the Cabinet as a whole: issue periodic reports, hold regular AMA sessions, and let the region know what the agenda is and what will be done to get there.

The South Pacific Independent News Network (SPINN) is an independent news organisation established in 2003 with the goal of providing good, insightful and timely commentary on regional events for the citizens of the South Pacific. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board. Content is published via pseudonyms. The SPINN is not associated with the Government of the South Pacific.

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