10 June 2022
Media Release – Re-appointment of Secretary to Cabinet
Mr Harold Arthur Browne, or ‘JJ’ as he is more commonly known, has been re-appointed for a second, 3-year, term as the Secretary to Cabinet.
Mr Browne has been in office as Secretary to Cabinet for three years. The re-appointment of the Cabinet Secretary is to ensure continuity in the management of administrative support to Cabinet Services and the Executive Council. The Secretary to Cabinet even though being a single individual, fills two separate distinct roles with separate responsibilities to Cabinet and as Clerk to the Executive Council.
The Secretary to Cabinet is located within the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and operates at the direction of, and reports directly to the Prime Minster. For matters relating solely to administrative issues, including performance management and financial review, the Secretary to Cabinet reports to the Chief of Staff of the OPM. As per the Cook Islands Constitution and in accordance with a decision of Cabinet, the Public Service Commissioner, Carl Hunter, has today, issued a Warrant of Appointment confirming Mr Browne to the position of Secretary to Cabinet.
The Secretary to Cabinet fills a specific and important constitutionally designated role with the clear expectation of propriety and impartiality. The position is of such importance that it is appropriate for the Secretary to Cabinet to be accorded the mana of a senior public servant and to be employed under conditions that maintain his autonomy and independence. This is the expectation in democracies that have adopted a Westminster system of Government similar to that of the Cook Islands.
The Public Service Commissioner (PSC), Carl Hunter, commented that Mr Browne’s professionalism and dedication to his two roles has enabled him to execute his duties to the highest of standards. As the Chair of the Central Agencies Committee (CAC), a Committee made up of the Solicitor General, Financial Secretary and Chief of Staff – and that vets all submissions made to Cabinet, and which Mr Browne also serves as Secretary to - Hunter has had to rely on Mr Browne’s proficiency and competence to ensure that Cabinet receives the best information to enable them to make informed decisions on all matters relating to the national development of the Cook Islands.
“Since commencing my duties as PSC and therefore assuming the Chair of CAC role, I have enjoyed working closely on a weekly basis with Mr Browne, as Cabinet Secretary, as well as the other CAC members. In his Secretary to Cabinet role Mr Browne has always demonstrated a high level of impartiality and professionalism, providing helpful advice and guidance whenever sought by CAC colleagues or myself. Moving forward for the next three years, I’m confident that Mr Browne’s performance in his role as Cabinet Secretary will continue at the highest level”.