Which minister will be next to go? Rodney Hide or Anne Tolley?
If competence was a condition of keeping their job, both would be long gone. But doing a good minister has never been a job requirement in John Key’s government. It comes down to which of them makes a spectacular mistake so serious that Key has to wake up and sack them.
On that ground, you’ve got to say Tolley is odds on favourite. Watch the vid of her trying to answer simple questions about her portfolio yesterday, and note the wide-eyed look and the involuntary ‘oh, oh’ sounds she makes the second she has to answer a question by relying on her on knowledge of the issues:
To the tune of ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ John Armstrong tries to paint this the best he can for Tolley. “Mallard was justified in claiming a victory – but only on points. This time there was applause from Tolley’s own side of the House as the Education Minister managed to keep her poise – if only just.”
But this is the really interesting line “Mallard knows he is in danger of being painted as a bully and has accordingly adopted a more forensic approach to his questioning.”
It would be a sad, sad day if a member asking a minister questions about her portfolio is seen as a ‘bully’. I mean should Mallard go and give her a hug because she isn’t up to her job? She’s a minister of the Crown responsible for the education of our children, not a child in a school play.
But, as Armstrong has mentioned it, this ‘bully’ line is clearly one that National’s spin doctors are trying to push on the media. Think about how desperate that position is, how irredeemable Tolley’s performance as a minister is, when the Nats are trying to scare Mallard (who is far from afraid of epithet’s by his opponents) into not asking legitimate questions.