Slippery old Ryall

Written By: - Date published: 10:22 pm, August 12th, 2010 - 24 comments
Categories: health, slippery, spin - Tags:

It seems Tony Ryall has been “secret shopping” around New Zealand’s accident and emergency waiting rooms and Labour is concerned about the breech of protocol.

Get real. The idea that a minister cares enough about his portfolio to take time out of his busy schedule to spot check services is PR gold.

Especially when that minister is responsible for under the radar cuts all over the place, is facing some backlash down south, and needs some cover.

But Tone’s a particularly good operator and he’s learned from National’s Crown health Enterprises fiasco in the 1990s – he’s not going to do a bells and whistles attack because that’s amateur hour – you only have to look at how Bennett is in perpetual damage control on welfare issues to see the dangers of a front-on attack.

On the other hand carrying out a series of cuts while running a “business as usual” line is enough to stay under the radar. After all, if you’re messing with operational stuff and not running your agenda through legislation you avoid the parliamentary spotlight.

And that’s exactly what Tony’s been doing. Cutting the budget in Wellington, ditching neurological services in Dunedin, driving down the health budget nationally – it’s all been done with moderate terms like “certainty” and “strong finances” and a careful strategy of not being available to answer the hard questions.

Now he’s the minister of “spot checks”. I suspect the news of these drop-ins has come from Ryall’s office and will work to offset the bad PR he’s had around the Dunedin neurological issue and Labour is walking straight into it by trying to gain traction on a “protocol” issue nobody gives a damn about.

A couple of better questions would be how did this get out (I’ll be it was his office) and how many “spot checks” has he made (I’ll bet it’s no more than needed to sell the story).

He’s a slippery old bugger with quite some time in the saddle. Just look at how low profile he’s kept health issues. I wonder how long he’ll get away with it…

24 comments on “Slippery old Ryall”

  1. Bill 1

    So step on up to the second and third link on Pascal’s bookie’s comment from open mike…

    Open mike 12/08/2010

  2. Pete 2

    When I saw the story on the news I thought it was classic “look over there” B.S.

  3. gingercrush 3

    Perhaps Ryall was taking tips from Annette King whose admirable skill for making health a non-issue in the noughties was legendary. She could remove people from the waiting lists and still be considered golden.

    My partner brought it hook line and sinker and was screaming at the television when Annette King was criticising Ryall.

    • comedy 3.1

      Ryalls handling of health to date from a political perspective makes King look like a rank amateur, clearly a master of the dark arts

  4. Mike 4

    [Deleted entire text of this article here. Mike, please post links or excerpts, not just cut and paste entire articles. Thanks. — r0b]

  5. jcuknz 5

    As one of my elected representatives I would think it good that Ryall drops in without warning so the supervisors don’t run around tarting the place up. What else he does may be questionable but this is a good idea and I hope he continues to get the nitty gritty rather than gloss.

  6. If all news media outlets had accurately sourced this story you and your readers would know Mr Ryall made the admission in repsonse to an OIA request from the press gallery office of online news service The request was put to all ministers about whether they observed frontline services within their portfolios without telling staff or management.

    Marie McNicholas
    Political Correspondent
    Parliamentary Press Gallery

  7. joe bloggs 7

    The only slippery thing about this whole story is that it highlights the difference between an ex-Health Minister who lived in an ivory tower and the present Health Minister who is interested enough in his portfolio to get out and see first-hand what really happens without trumpet fanfare or red carpet

  8. Gosman 8

    Shock Horror!!!

    Minister of the Crown attempts to see for himself what services he is responsible for without it being stage managed by other people.

    By the way, given the controversial nature of the Minstry of Health in the past, Tony Ryall must be doing a reasonable job for health issues not to be a major bone of contention as it has been before. Wouldn’t you agree?

  9. Gosman 9

    Hey Irishbill, it looks like you have uncovered a conspiracy involving members of the Parliamentary press gallary and Tony Ryall’s office. Tony has obviously been working secretly behind the scenes with these journalistic patsies to set up the PR coup. Brilliantly done don’t you think?

    IrishBill: Nope, it looks like I’ve uncovered a troll with nothing to add but snide rhetoric. Take a month off and when you come back make sure you run an argument rather than a series of banal bating lines.

    • joe bloggs 9.1

      This is almost as good as Annette King’s own-goal: telling people that a Minister shouldn’t go and take a look at things for themselves.

      Speaks volumes for Labour’s view on ministerial responsibility.

      Also speaks volumes for the ways that Labour ministers set up visits like this for PR goldmining, rather than out of genuine interest in their portfolios.

      What’s next?
      – the Minister for Tourism shouldn’t travel?
      – the Minister of Transport shouldn’t drive anywhere?

      Talk about scraping the bottom of the barrel…

      • Frank Macskasy 9.1.1

        If Ryall really wanted to check up on A & E departments, he should front up; introduce himself; roll his sleeves up; and pitch in.

        Perhaps on Friday and Saturday evenings, when drunks start rolling in, after a night of boozing and bashing.

        As for your statement,

        “What’s next?
        – the Minister for Tourism shouldn’t travel?
        – the Minister of Transport shouldn’t drive anywhere?”

        Straw-man argument.

  10. I wonder if we’ll see Basher Bennett on the front line down at the foodbank checking on the growing cues there or the cues at Work and Income as more line up for accom allowances to front up with the rent and checking to make sure no one gets one dollar or can of food more than they need to survive til the next week…

  11. Scott 11

    I can’t believe Annette King is being critical of Ryall over this.

    Does she think voters care that an apparent ministerial “protocol” has been breached with Ryall’s surprise visits?

  12. Frank Macskasy 12

    Taking a leaf out of Tony Ryall’s book on “secret squirrel” activities in our public hospitals; would he be ok if I, and other members of the public, wandered through his Parliamentary office incognito?

    After all, as tax-payers, we’d like to drop in to get “a perspective on how things are working”.

    • Gosman 12.1

      Ummmmm…. if you want to see the ins and outs of the parliamentary process you can always visit Parliament during a sitting day or attend a select committee meeting.

  13. Adrian 13

    This is as TV3 described last night, creepy. Even by Back-Door Tony’s standards.

  14. odysseus 14

    Have on very good authority that Health Ministry staff spent most of the day the other day, opening 20000 envelopes addressed to Mr Slippery rejecting Otago neurosugery cuts.

  15. Jim Nald 15

    oh puhleaze. you think we’d fall for the BS?
    at best, it is a political gimmick

  16. Gosman 16


    [lprent: test too short – wound up in spam. ]

  17. Frank Macskasy 17

    I think we should all visit Tony Ryall’s office – incognito of course – and have a wander through. After all, as taxpayers, his office belongs to us, and we’re entitled to poke around. Just to see “how things are going” of course.

  18. Deborah Kean 18

    My son is nurse at Welly Hospital, and he’s certain that Ryall’s stunt would be a disaster! EDs have better things to do… and aside from anything else, an ED can *look* as if staff are doing nothing, when in reality they’re flat out like the proverbial lizards drinking..

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