As widely predicted, Christine Rankin is continuing to cause embarrassment for the government. She is now succeeding in making the Prime Minister look weak, as despite blatantly ignoring his warnings, he seems unwilling to sack her.
From John Key’s post-cabinet press conference just last week (15th June):
Question: The families commission’s come out in support of the yes vote on the child discipline referendum. Would you be expecting Christine Rankin to campaign for the YES vote?
John Key: I wouldn’t be expecting her to campaign no.
Question: Would you expect her to say anything negative about it or to oppose it?
John Key: Well look I think the position for the families commission is that they take a collective view actually.
Rankin has subsequently done an interview with Investigate magazine, where she talks about how it is a parent’s right to smack as a form of discipline. In response to Rankin’s interview, John Key said:
I don’t think it’s particularly provocative. I made it clear I wouldn’t want to see her campaigning on the ‘no’ vote, and I think she’s honoured that, so I’m pretty relaxed about it.
So what does the Prime Minister consider to be campaigning? In my view, generally the point of campaigning is to make your views known publicly, to seek media attention, and to educate the public on your viewpoint. That is exactly what Rankin has done here.
How can Rankin remain part of the Families Commission when she refuses to stop publicly contradicting them? Her comments are clearly undermining what is supposed to be a collective position supporting the YES vote.
However according to The Herald, John Key said he did not believe Ms Rankin was undermining the commission’s practice of presenting a collective view on issues.
One has to wonder, if this is his idea of ‘presenting a collective view’, does that mean his cabinet ministers are free to publicly undermine him and his government?