When it comes to a repulsive cocktail of double standards, self-interest, and hypocrisy, National is the party that just keeps on giving…
from: Frank Macskasy <email@example.com>
to: Listener <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: 25 November 2017
subject: Letters to the editor
On 23 November, the Coalition government fulfilled another of it’s election pledges. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash announced that Michael Cullen would head the planned Taxation Working Group to look into issues surrounding a fairer taxation system.
National’s political strategist and former minister, Steven Joyce responded with a predictable jerk-of-the-knee;
“Sir Michael is many things but a politically independent voice on taxation policy he is not. Let’s face it, he was Labour’s last Finance Minister and one of the key coalition negotiators for the Labour Party.”
Joyce’s reprehensible swipe at Cullen’s appointment was hypocritical for two reasons.
“I look forward to working with Dr Cullen to develop NZ Post’s strategy to accommodate declining mail volumes and a challenging financial environment.”
Secondly, when it comes to cronyism, National is hard to beat. Just some of their political appointees include Jackie Blue, Wyatt Creech, Mervyn English, Sir Wira Gardiner, Catherine Isaac, Judy Kirk, Richard Long, Wayne Mapp, Stephen McElrea, Jim McLay, Belinda Milnes, Ravi Musuku, Brian Neeson, Kerry Prendergast, , Katherine Rich, Jenny Shipley, Ken Shirley, Roger Sowry, and Penny Webster.
One of National’s worst instances of cronyism was the hugely wasteful, so-called “Rules Reduction Taskforce“, which produced it’s “loopy rules report”. Half the “Taskforce”, appointed by Paula Bennett in 2014, consisted of former National MPs such as Tau Henare, John Carter, and former party candidates Mark Thomas and Ian Tulloch. They were each paid $500 a day.
Eventually the “Taskforce” reported that many of the contentious bureaucratic regulations did not exist in reality. They were urban myths.
Thank you Steven Joyce for reminding us how National excels at cronyism.
[address and phone number supplied]
Further on the issue of the so-called “Rules Reduction Taskforce”, Green Party MP, Julie-Anne Genter, said at the time;
“We’re getting to that point where the National government is losing all perspective or sense of touch with reality – when they think it’s okay to pay their former MPs or candidates and donors to undertake what’s ostensibly some sort of taskforce work, it’s really just an exercise in PR and spin.”
That little exercise cost taxpayers a cool $750,000.
Around the same time, the Wanganui Chronicle reported that community NGOs were suffering badly, with several such as Relationships Aotearoa and the YWCA, closing entirely;
Fellow blogger, Curwen Rolinson, was also less than impressed at Joyce’s naked hypocrisy, pointing out on Facebook;
But hold on just a moment. I’ve literally lost count of the number of consultative bodies and even straight-up *Inquiries* that the National Party *quite pointedly* staffed the chairing of with their own people, flunkies, and other such questionable appointments.
I mean, as an example of this – their placing of John Shewan at the head of the group convened to look into slash “dispel” the perception of New Zealand as a tax-haven, for instance, was quite directly a case of placing a fox in charge of a hen-house [Shewan’s private sector activities including quite a spate of tax-“consultancy” and linkages to a series of potentially dodgy international firms in this regard].
Or, worse, the series of appointments of [now Dame – guess why she got the gong, eh?] Paula Rebstock to head Inquiries into everything from Peter Dunne’s ‘alleged’ leaking of materials around the GCSB’s illegal conduct through to the ‘Leask’ affair concerning MFAT information being anonymously passed to the Labour Party.
Curwen continued to strip away National’s faux outrage;
Further, if I recall correctly, the previous National Government’s “2025 Taskforce” on pensions and the like was convened to be *chaired by* none other than arch-neoliberal [and former National Party Leader] Don Brash. I don’t seem to recall the National Party raising any issue with “politically tied” appointments to policy working-group style arrangements THEN…?
What’s different about Cullen on the Tax Working Group, I wonder…?
But when it came to cronyism mixed with commercial self interest, Judith Collins’ involvement in the Oravida milk company scandal was hard to top, as political commentator, Bryce Edwards put bluntly;
Perceptions of corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest can be incredibly damaging to any government, and National will be very wary of a narrative developing that this administration is infected with political sleaze.
Nothing makes a government look more tired, out-of-touch, and arrogant than scandals that suggest governing politicians are ethically compromised and governing in the interests of the powerful rather than the public.
Judith Collins’ milk endorsement scandal is beginning to have a serious impact on the Government’s reputation. But unfortunately for National, there are a number of similar stories dogging it at the moment, and they all come on the back of previous allegations of cronyism related to the scandals over John Banks as well as the SkyCity convention centre procurement process.
The scandal over Judith Collins and her allegedly favourable treatment of the milk company that her husband helps run has allowed National’s opponents to make some strong attacks on the character of, not only the Minister of Justice, but the whole National administration
By August 2014, the allegations of sleaze, corruption, conflicts of interest became over-whelmingly and Collins was forced to step down from her ministerial roles.
There were many other instances of cronyism revealed during National’s nine years in office. Several resulted in ministerial resignations.
If the appointment of a former Finance Minister to a working group focused on Finance issues (ie, taxation) is the worst that National can throw at the new Coalition government – then it is lobbing damp squibs.
Considering National’s own recent murky history, the issue of cronyism is one where it might be wiser to keep a very, very, very low profile.
A roll call of some of National’s cronies – ex-members of Parliament appointed to various government bodies, organisations, NGOs, working groups, etc;
This list is not complete.
NZ Herald: Cullen leaves politics for NZ Post role
NZ Herald: Cullen to replace Bolger at NZ Post
Fairfax media: Cullen appointed NZ Post chairman
Wanganui Chronicle: Concern over lack of funding for NGOs
Facebook: Curwen Ares Rolinson – 24 November 2017
Radio NZ: Collins resigns after ‘smear campaign’
Frankly Speaking: Cronywatch
AmeriNZ Blog: Is John Key’s government corrupt?
The Standard: Cabinet Club
Previous related blogposts
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