I wonder if Patrick Gower could keep a straight face while writing this:
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has dropped her additional Disability Issues portfolio because Prime Minister John Key wants her to concentrate on the growing numbers of people losing their jobs.
Note his phrasing. Not ‘concentrate on reducing the growing number of people losing their jobs’. In fact, Bennett herself has contributed to the dole queues by several hundred just from sackings in her own ministry. Let alone her total failure to save any significant number of jobs in the wider economy.
The Westie (from Rotorua) straight out of central casting, Paula Bennett has never been anything more than a marketing gimmick. From the start it has been obvious she is hopelessly out of her depth (listen to her try to talk about what she does as minister, it’s like a kid explaining why they haven’t done their homework). This level of incompetence would be disastrous in any minister, let alone the one whose ministry has the biggest budget and is meant to be at the leading edge of the government’s reaction to the recession.
Taking away her other portfolio is a vote of no confidence in her from Key. He’s effectively saying ‘you’re not performing well enough. So I’m going to lighten your load. Last chance to do better’.
Unfortunately, this is a government built on such gimmicks and that is what will save Bennett no matter how badly she continues to perform. Key can’t afford to lose face by admitting Bennett was never up to the role and only got the job because of her image.
The Key government is all about brand over substance. Bennett can continue stuffing up all she wants. She’s part of the Key brand so her job is safe. Pity we can’t say the same for tens of thousands of Kiwis who are going on the dole under her watch.
[Key just invented a new ministry in Question Time saying: ‘well, actually Paula Bennett asked to be relieved of responsibility for the Ministry of Disabilities’. Um… the guy doesn’t even know that ministries he governs. This just gets worse]