The Nats are awash in the grubby side of political power. Take cronyism, for example. Political appointments to the boards of RNZ and TVNZ. Judith Collins cutting corners in the appointment of Nat Wayne Mapp to the Law Commission. Brownlee’s appointment of Jenny Shipley and other Nats to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Review Panel at triple the normal pay rate. McCulley’s no tender contract for ex Nat Mark Blumsky. Currently in the headlines, the “unusual” level of support given to Nat aligned Bronwyn Pullar in her various claims. The list goes on and on and on.
It’s not just the leftie bloggers that are saying so either. In a worrying development for the Nats, the stink has got so strong that even usually friendly journalists have been moved to comment. Fran O’Sullivan:
SkyCity centre deal smacks of cronyism
The National Government’s proposed sweetheart deal with casino operator SkyCity verges on being immoral and smacks of crony capitalism.
This is not the sort of message you will hear from the media celebrities who are the beneficiaries of SkyCity’s “Chairman’s Card” or are “Ambassadors” for the casino operator in return for perks said to be worth thousands of dollars each year.
They are far too comfortable to shed the spotlight on hard issues involving the casino operator.
But it’s a message that the public should send John Key’s Government loud and clear. …
In similarly grubby politics, John Armstrong warns about the ongoing politicisation of the public service:
Commission fiddles while its cred burns
…Such is the State Services Commission’s seeming indifference to the slow politicisation of the public service, it would be barely missed were it to be folded into some other body with a monitoring role such as the Treasury or the Prime Minister’s Department. As the public service’s guardian against undue influence from outsiders, the commission is more lapdog than watchdog. It rarely barks, let alone bites.
Its seeming reluctance to say or do anything to bolster public confidence in public service independence and neutrality in the face of increasing erosion of those ideals by politicians was underlined this week by the contrasting willingness of Auditor-General Lyn Provost to dive into the turbulent political waters surrounding the ACC. …
As amply demonstrated by Murray McCully’s interference in the botched restructuring of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, ministers are no longer coy about sheeting home the blame to officials when things go wrong in their department. …
The search for savings means departments are implicitly making political decisions as to what to cut and by how much. The public service’s most valuable asset – political neutrality – is consequently at grave risk of being devalued. …
Another case in point, the current messy internal power struggles.
None of this should come as a surprise. It’s all just a continuation of the methods and the mindset that Nicky Hager described so comprehensively in The Hollow Men. Key’s “new broom” act was a great sales job, but the reality is it’s business as usual for the Nats.