Year 18 | 23 February 2021
4 TAKEAWAYS FROM THE CABINET TRANSITION
James D. Halpert | Senior Editor
#1 - A vote for moderation
A number of races where uncontested, but where there were mutliple candidates the region seems to have voted for the candidate with the more moderate tone. To be clear, this doesn't mean that all those elected are moderates who want to take the region back to its unaligned days, but when faces with a choice between a more emphatic defender stance and a continuation of, for lack of the better word, the status quo, the region seems to have chosen the latter. Jay and Rabbitz portrayed themselves as the defender candidates, Glen and Islas ran on experience and agenda setting. Rabbitz even explicitly said in the Minister of Media Debate that they would use their position to push forward defender-friendly content. This is to say that, with the South Pacific now being a firmly defender region, legislators seem to have decided that the priority is no longer in affirming that defender identity, but rather making sure that their government works.
#2 - Intra-Cabinet councils
Prime Minister Glen Rhodes announced the formation of two intra-Cabinet councils -the Domestic Affairs Council and the Foreign Affairs Council-, with each council setting policy in their areas of responsibility without, for the most part, input from the other. This is a significant departure from the way the Cabinet has always operated, but it could also be an interesting opportunity to optimise the work of the executive branch and ensure that decisions are made more swiftly and by those who actually have a stake in the matters at hand. It will be good to see how this idea pans out in the coming term and if it would be a model for the operation of future Cabinets.
#3 - No advisor announcements
The Prime Minister's inaugural address did not list any advisor or intern appointments, another departure from the practice of recent Cabinets. This could be a good thing if it means a greater focus on the work of elected officials and their staff, who would be more accountable for what they do than officials who are appointed often without clear duties or expectations. If this is the way the Cabinet chooses to go, it would certainly fit with the Prime Minister's platform of greater accountability and transparency.
#4 - No farewell address
There was no farewell address from the Penguin Cabinet, no collective account of what the agenda had been and how much of it was accomplished. This is a regrettable end for a Cabinet that, no matter how much may have been done by individual ministries, nevertheless failed to present a united front and a common vision for the region. The past four months were a missed opportunity, but they did generate the appetite for the kind of policies and leadership proposed by Sandaoguo. The coming term will be test to see if the Prime Minister can deliver on their promises and, more importantly, if the region learned the importance of holding its officials accountable.
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.