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Written By: - Date published: 5:10 pm, March 9th, 2009 - 32 comments
Categories: national/act government - Tags: , ,

So, ‘Crusher’ Collins has failed in her high profile campaign to have Barry Matthews sacked. How embarrassing, what with her staking her entire political reputation on it and all.

I doubt John Key will be particularly happy about being dragged into this whole sorry affair either. Less than two weeks ago the Herald reported:

The Prime Minister says the public should have no confidence in the Department of Corrections’ handling of parole procedures, and is backing Judith Collins’ efforts to remove its chief executive, Barry Matthews.

He won’t appreciate being made to look like a fool by one of his ministers.

UPDATE: Thanks to ‘gobsmacked’ in the comments for alerting us to this little gem from two weeks ago. Take it away, John Armstrong:

‘Collins now has too much political collateral invested in Matthews being sacked for her to pull back and accept that he stays in his job. The longer he clings on, the more embarrassing it becomes for her.

” If he doesn’t go, Collins will not only be seen as weak and a blowhard, she will be seen as losing a crucial battle and thus losing control of her portfolio. That is an image no minister can allow to take hold.’

32 comments on “Fail ”

  1. rodgeredgnome 1

    Perhaps they should sack Rennie and Matthews …….. or should we just accept that there is no accountability amongst the NZ public service.

    [lprent: Is this a new phase in your personality? The IP is extremely interesting. Anyway, I’m putting that psuedonym into anti-spam as being deliberately offensive. Find another one ]

  2. Rex Widerstrom 2

    What’s most embarrassing is that NZ’s chief executive appointment process is now seen to be a lackadaisical circus (or an old boys’ club, I’m not sure which), thrown into stark relief by a Minister who didn’t know (or perhaps care, or perhaps both) the limits of her own power and thus, as you correctly point out, is now in an embarrassing position.

    Barry Matthews was an utter failure when in charge of INCIS and then, somehow, managed to escape scrutiny by decamping to Western Australia to become Police Commissioner. He then exceeded his own record of arrogance and incompetence by creating an unworkable relationship with the then Minister [Michelle Roberts, ALP] and his own staff [the force effectively went on strike, handling only emergencies, and had to be ordered back to work].

    His tenure was summarised thusly by the Kennedy royal commission:

    …poor management within the service had allowed corruption to continue unimpeded…

    A single example that comes to mind is the time WA taxpayers got saddled with a $A100,000 legal bill for two police officers judged by courts to have been corrupt. The court’s findings were simply rejected by Matthews, who recommended no internal disciplining.

    Play this as an embarrasment for “Crusher” if you like, but it’s more than that. The fact that a reference check with his former employer (Roberts), his former subordinates or the independent watchdog – let alone his woeful performance while with the NZ police – should all have rung alarm bells loudly enough to prevent his appointment to Corrections makes the entire NZ public service appointment process, and the SSC, more of a laughing stock than the Minister.

    She, after all, was just inexpertly floundering around looking for a way to fix the mistakes of others.

    • lprent 2.1

      I think that point was that she was trying to “quick-fix” rather than to follow the process. Has tried to do the same in a couple of other areas. Not the right approach for a minister.

      • Chess Player 2.1.1

        But nice to know that she is well intentioned, given Matthews’s past performance, don’t you think?

  3. gobsmacked 3

    Quiz time.

    Who wrote this, a couple of weeks ago?

    “Collins now has too much political collateral invested in Matthews being sacked for her to pull back and accept that he stays in his job. The longer he clings on, the more embarrassing it becomes for her. … If he doesn’t go, Collins will not only be seen as weak and a blowhard, she will be seen as losing a crucial battle and thus losing control of her portfolio. That is an image no minister can allow to take hold.”

  4. higherstandard 4

    Rex it can be added to a long list of embarrassments which have happened over decades on both parties watches I suspect we only ever know about the tip of the iceberg – feck it’s depressing.

    • Rex Widerstrom 4.1

      Oh to be sure, to be sure…

      Though I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone as obviously incompetent as Matthews getting through the process. His failures weren’t so much an iceberg (and thus mostly hidden beneath the surface) as a flamin’ great illuminated lighthouse with “this way to the reef” blazing away in neon.

      I can quite understand a Minister wanting to be rid of an absolute numpty that’s mismanaging the department he or she is responsible for, and their frustration at finding they can’t. Since I’m amongst those who think Ministers should show a bit of accountability when their department screws up, it tends to derail that argument if said Minister has been saddled with a cretin who can’t or won’t run the department effectively.

      That doesn’t mean those lower down the food chain should be subject to political fiat (e.g. the Setchell case) but chief executives tend to answer directly to their board and chairman (Cabinet and Minister), not the HR consultant who recommended them in the first place.

      It is amusing, though, to see the excreable Christine Rankin mentioned in the same breath as Matthews in some parts, but somehow she’s pure as the driven snow because it was a nasty Labourite what done ‘er in.

      Anyway, I’m sure Matthews has a few spare banknotes out of the 375,000 we bung him each year on which to blow his nose.

  5. Janet 5

    John Key is now telling the head of Internal Affairs to sack one of his staff. Doesn’t he know that the public service is supposed to be independent of government?

    • Tigger 5.1

      No. None of them do. They’ve already made it clear to CEOs that they expect them to tow the NACT line or go.

      • Ari 5.1.1

        One “toes” the team line, not “tows” it, because as a sports metaphor, usually such lines are merely painted 😉

        • Tigger

          Or you could interpret it as CEOs needing to tow (ie. drag) the National line behind them…or that I was using the eggcorn version of the phrase…

          • Felix

            Do you mean to imply that you used “tow” deliberately – knowing it to be out of place in the phrase you were using – for some sort of ironic effect?

            *cough* bullshit *cough*

          • Tigger

            Note to self: put smiley face on any post meant to be read with irony or humour… 🙂

  6. BLiP 6

    Typical National – they just do not understand that the business of government is not, in fact, a business.

  7. stan 7

    Re Barry Matthews:
    It escapes my understanding why Labour keeps supporting this man?. Few of the Labour Parliamentarians are pausing to think about this issue before joining the stampede of leemings towards the cliff face. Matthews has led a department that has been dogged with failure and put the general public at risk because of its inability to operate properly. In any event I think the question of Matthews tenure is a misnomer given the impending privatisation of corrections.
    It is my belief that ACC will follow.
    My informants also tell me that things are looking extremely shaky for Helen at the U.N. Those who have the vote are suggesting that NZ has its turn over the years and are looking for leadership amongst candidates from an emerging Nation.
    I think Key has been very magnanimous with respect to Clark, who history will judge poorly.With the most recent Polls showing only 25% support for Labour it is time they stopped pointing fingers at others and put their house in order.At present they are facing a bleak landscape.
    Stan Blanch

    • lprent 7.1

      It isn’t so much that they support or don’t support Matthews. I have no opinion on him or his performance. What I have seen is the NACT’s getting themselves in a lather with figures that are so spurious that I immediately discount them. I suspect that is the McVicar influence (commonly pronounced as ‘Bullshit’).

      However Judith Collins I do have a distinct opinion on. She is incompetent as a minister and probably as an MP. I’ve formed that opinion since she took office, which is pretty impressive since it was about 4 months.

      Does that answer your question? At least from one labour member..

  8. Conor Roberts 8

    Remind me how many boy racer cars or chief executives has Crusher Collins crushed? Why does the media still give her this moniker?

    • Tane 8.1

      Beats me, but I think it’s hilarious. Crusher Collins – there’s a Tui billboard in that.

      • Tigger 8.1.1

        She’s crushing her own hopes and dreams of moving up the Cabinet rankings for sure…and crushing the chance of getting her hands on the Social Development portfolio…

        • Kevin Welsh

          Really enjoyed watching her squirm on the news last night. Still trying to sound tough in what is fast becoming a humiliating defeat.

          • TightyRighty

            if she is she could have only have learnt to do it by watching the labour party in the run up to the last election

  9. todd 9

    Personaly I think that Collins should just sack the useless sod and take the hit.how bloody useless do you have to be before you get the sack,its just an joke.And it makes her look stupid

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