Niue’s longest serving female Member of Parliament O’love Jacobsen believes New Zealand has failed in holding Niue accountable for how it has spent its money.
Speaking at a Q and A session featuring Common Roll election candidates on Tuesday night at the USP Niue Campus, Jacobsen highlighted her political priorities which are quality, visible and inclusive leadership, building back Niue’s credibility and to reverse the diaspora.
Jacobsen expressed her concern in relation to the recent audit report on Niue by the auditor general of New Zealand which was tabled in Parliament last month.
The latest audit report for Niue is for the 2014 – 2015 financial year. However, 5 years in arrears of audit reports are still pending.
“New Zealand needs to put their foot down; these are public money. The very least Niue could do is to account for its use.”
In the last sitting of the Fono Ekepule, Opposition MP Jacobsen put forth a motion before the House calling on the Legislative Assembly to send the latest audit report on Niue to New Zealand’s SFO which investigates and prosecutes serious or complex financial crimes.
However, there was no support for her motion.
The audit report dated 19th December 2019 contained several issues of grave concerns raised by the Auditor General, relating to financial stability, the Niue Numismatic and Philatelic Corporation (NPNC), Capability and Capacity, Unauthorized expenditure, insufficient records and lack of supporting information, Donor funds and aid money management. Previous audit findings and recommendations not being followed.
The Government of Niue also tabled its response to the audit report in Parliament.
The Veteran MP called on Niueans to keep in mind that the current Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern is the ‘daughter of Niue’ and that Niueans need to keep her credible in the eyes of New Zealanders by being accountable for the use of money provided by New Zealand.
“We need to do everything humanly possible to make her look good, that what she gives to Niue will be looked upon with favor.”
The New Zealand Prime Minister’s father Ross Ardern previously served as Niue’s Chief of Police and is the immediate former New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue.
On her political priorities, Jacobsen believes there is a need for leadership that is quality, visible and inclusive. She said a leadership that belongs to the people and not to only one individual.
Building credibility that has been tarnished due to the lack of accountability.
“ We need to be credible in the eyes of firstly our people on the island, in the eyes of New Zealand and in the eyes of our donors who have been providing money to supplement our income.” She said
Reverse diaspora. Jacobsen highlighted this as one of her priorities in attracting Niueans abroad to return to the island.
“We need people to build the nation up. People are our greatest asset.” She said
Currently, Niue has a total population of close to 1, 700 as more than 20,000 reside in New Zealand.
Niue is a self-governing state in free association with New Zealand, and New Zealand conducts most diplomatic relations on its behalf. Niueans are citizens of New Zealand