Late analysis on the reshuffle

Written By: - Date published: 12:21 pm, January 24th, 2013 - 15 comments
Categories: national/act government - Tags:

I’ll say this for Key’s media people, they’re masters of the undersell when it comes to the insubstantial. And they know the media love to be surprised. John Armstrong gushed “Key has displayed all the sentiment of a corporate restructurer. So ministers are given the chance to perform. If they do not they are out. Simple as that.” But how ‘ruthless’ was Key really in the reshuffle? Two mediocre ministers with little political clout got the chop, but the real under-performers were too powerful for Key to touch.

Take, for example, the austerity-leading Finance Minister who was caught out lining his own pockets in the Double Dipton affair. Did Bill English get the boot due to the fact he is running one of the most under-performing economies in the developed world, one which is experiencing rising unemployment while it is falling elsewhere? Fuck no.

Steven Joyce, does he get the sack given that his economic development agenda (dig up oil, build a convention centre, seize Canterbury’s water) is falling apart, with only the last leg succeeding, and only because they won’t let Cantabrians vote for their own council. Again, unemployment is rising, the economy is under-performing relative to the other developed countries – look at the stats and we have more in common with the PIIGS or the UK (now entering its triple dip of recession) than strongly performing countries like Germany, Australia, and even the US. Instead, Key calls this perennial failure his Mr Fix It (interesting that he’s been given the job of ‘sorting out’ Novopay just as the largest problems are being solved, Camp Collins won’t be pleased).

Gerry Brownlee has made enemies everywhere in Christchurch through an abrasive attitude that takes every complaint or suggestion as a personal insult, to which he replies in kind. If there were any other senior Nats in our formerly second largest city, Brownlee never would have got the job. But he’ll keep it.

Judith Collins has overseen a dysfunctional culture of privacy invasion in ACC and, in an effort to cover her arse she has taken out everyone else int he vicinity from Nick Smith to various board members and the CEO. Certainly, she’s done worse than the quite little workhorse that was Heatley. But she keeps her jobs.

Hekia Parata. Enough said. You can’t claim to be making competence a test of continuing to hold a ministerial warrant and leave Parata on as minister of education.

Paula Bennett. It’s not so much that the number of people on the unemployment benefit has increased 150% under her watch. Or that her gimmicks, such as boot camps, have been abject failures. Or that, as a former solo mum on the DPB, she has chosen the moment of the worst economic crisis in a generation to beat up on women like she used to be. It’s the growing disparity between the number of unemployed and those getting unemployment assistance. Something very disturbing is happening almost unseen as Unemployment Benefit and DPB numbers fall while the number of people out of work rises – what is happening to the people who are out of work who aren’t getting help? Does Bennett even know?

Murray McCully made Mfat, the unleakable organisation, leak, and then his reforms fell over. That’s incompetence, pure and simple. He keeps his job.

Anne Tolley. You wouldn’t trust her to do the dishes. She’s just been lucky nothing’s blown up in Police yet.

Craig Foss. Somehow keeps his job despite being directly responsible for Novopay.

Maurice Williamson. It’s not that he’s done anything really wrong (well, not that we know about, yet), it’s just that you can’t say you’re rejuvenating when Williamson, who was first a minister in 1990 and was the architect of the leaky building disaster, is still in your ministry.

John Banks. The very name makes a mockery of the notion that Key has set accountability standards.

And what about the Minister for GCSB that is asleep at the wheel? Or the Minister of Tourism who holidays overseas for a month each year while the industry here is in steep decline? Yes, that failure keeps his jobs too.

The truth is, this had nothing to do with accountability or standards. Key wanted to get two new young, attractive faces into Cabinet, so he ditched the two that were easiest to ditch. It’s ruthless, perhaps, but it’s not about principles or competence.

15 comments on “Late analysis on the reshuffle”

  1. Blue 1

    It was amusing to see the chooks falling all over themselves gushing about how ‘ruthless’ and ‘performance focused’ Key was (despite not dumping any of the real non-performers).

    If you were forced to name the most incompetent ministers in Key’s government, Wilkinson and Heatley wouldn’t be amongst them.

    If we had halfway competent journalists this sort of sleight of hand would be ripped to shreds.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    Any thoughts on David Carter as the new speaker, Eddie?

    • Pascal's bookie 2.1

      It’ll be interesting to see how weaker ministers get on without Lockwood giving them the answers

      • Sweetd 2.1.1

        It is interesting, given that Ministers only have to ask one part of the question if it is a multi part question, that the opposition (labour mostly) still persist with these multipart questions only to give easy escapes to the Nats where that can simply answer a plain yes or no, this revealing little.

        So yes, I agree PB, without Lockie giving them a hand, then there is only a handful (less than 5) in labour that will be actually able to ask a specific question.

        • Pascal's bookie 2.1.1.1

          Yes, the escape is easy, and Labour are useless in QT far too often.

          But that doesn’t change the fact that Lockwood still had to regularly help out several front benchers; though it puts it some rather damning context I suppose.

  3. tc 3

    Armstrong is part of their game he’s neither not objective or critical, Key could take a dump on him and he’d find a way to admire the quality of kaka.

    Joyce, Muzza, Blinglish etc are all part of the same club the Hollowman back and when Key’s time is up he’ll be told if it’s not already decided that is, which could be after the SOE floats are safely in mates hands.

    This collins/Joyce replacement scenario is to give the plebs the facacde that these jokers actually make that decisions, I don’t buy that. Collins probably got told to pull her head in over the defamation case or she may be excluded from the running.

    Smith was put on the naughty step before he imploded, that’s his way, so they had to manage that situation. Performance/ability as a minister is not the issue, getting done what the backers seek is.

  4. PlanetOrphan 4

    He’s going through the motions.
    His real message …
    “We will continue the destruction in the name of our Right wing paradigms (i.e The Merrill Lynch asset stripping handbook)” and to hell with NZ.

  5. ak 5

    Significantly, Smith not given back his pet Local Govt spot – after spinning furiously for the ACTsop LGA02 amendment up and down the motu while supposedly without portfolio.

    Mega granny organ hush-hush on this one, after every single council submitted against it.

    Embarrassing clash with Tory mayors buried in LG election year with Tremain blancmange.

    So bye, Dr Nick. An out-of-body experience is more than enough for young Slippery: an out-of-minder not wanted.

    • coolas 5.1

      Tremain has championed the amalgamation of HB Councils. His brother heads the lobby group ‘A Better HB,’ but now he’s Minister, he says he’ll be impartial. WTF

      ‘Noddy’ Tremain isn’t very bright so we can look forward to spectacular fuck-ups as the LGA amendments are rolled out. And hopefully he’ll loose his seat in 2014.

  6. wyndham 6

    Could the retention of the “great communicator” Hekia Parata have anything to do with the fact that she is married to Sir Wira Gardiner ? His connections to both Maoridom and the National Party are manifold and the entries in his little black book probably equally so.

  7. Colonic Wiper 7

    I think the media have look at these changes in a comparitive way in regards to how Labour might be looking at its team.

    Wilkinson and Heatley being dumped for non performance and being replaced by new blood vs no change & business as usual except for the rumoured return of a serial wank*r.

  8. Wolfslair 8

    I’ll just saddle up the old shonkey donkey and bring in those two old ewes for the works so we can get this sorted and all feel a bit brighter about our future

  9. Liberal Realist 9

    Great piece Eddie!

    “Anne Tolley. You wouldn’t trust her to do the dishes. She’s just been lucky nothing’s blown up in Police yet.”

    +100 !! This one actually made me laugh out loud! Sadly you are 100% correct.

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