Well, didn’t the Queens Birthday Honours List make interesting reading?
Once you got over the National government regarding Prince Phillip as one of the 20 greatest living New Zealanders and the excessive number of “Services to Rugby” (the All Blacks are our real heroes, after all), I had to question the logic of knighting the Minister of Finance throughout the entire 5th Labour Government, Michael Cullen.
Don’t get me wrong, while the republican in me would love to have seen the Good Doctor decline this archaic title, there is no doubt in my mind about the need to honour the lifetime of public service Cullen has given to New Zealand. He is the most successful Finance Minister this country has seen in a long, long time (Bill English isn’t even in the same ball-park), and oversaw the creation of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (which was quickly gutted by the National Government) and kept the country’s books in a healthy surplus (which was quickly squandered by the National Government’s tax cuts).
It’s not unusual for government’s to honour members of the previous government – Helen Clark was awarded the Order of New Zealand in 2009, for example – but it is unusual is for a government to honour prominent members of the previous government four years after coming to power.
However, the big question is; why would the National government honour someone who, according to this government’s spin, is largely responsible for the economic ‘mess’ New Zealand is in? What happened to Labour’s “decades of deficits”, “financial incompetence”, “a sea of red ink”? Judging by the lines that National has trotted out over the past four years, Cullen should have had his citizenship revoked rather than be knighted.
Perhaps Bill English still believes his comments on entering government about Cullen leaving the books in such good order, leaving us well prepared for the Financial Crisis? It’s just National can’t quite bear to admit it publicly, as that would mean that the blame for our current mess (rightly) belonged only with them…