Hypocrisy alert

March 24th, 2009 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I almost choked as I read in the Dom Post:

leader said the moves were “a witch-hunt” against board members simply because they were not Party supporters.

“National is determined to go back to the old days when you needed to be a card-carrying National member to get appointed.”

There is standard hypocrisy and then there is this. Did Phil Goff remember voting to appoint Mike Williams to six different boards? Did Phil Goff remember appointing Di Yates to three or four boards as the “price” for getting her to leave Parliament?

And we won’t even talk about the the fact that the reason Wellington got called Helengrad is that because anyone who dared to disagree with Labour was put on a blacklist. Not only would they not get board appointments – their firms would be ineligible for any government contracts. This was all common knowledge. Dozens of business leaders said they would never publicly criticise the Labour Government as they would be shut out.

And what is Goff complaining about anyway:

A spokesman confirmed yesterday that State-Owned Enterprises Minister Simon Power had written to “a number” of directors telling them that when their terms ended on April 30 they would not be reappointed.

Oh my God. How dare National not reappoint directors that Phil Goff and Helen Clark personally chose. This is not a “sacking” as with the ACC Chair. This is just a normal expiry of term. Of course that doesn’t prevent the hsyterical claim:

National has launched its night of the long knives on state boards, with a range of mostly Labour-leaning directors being told they no longer have a job.

Now most readers are educated people and know what the night of the long knives was, but for those who do not it is when Hitler had his political opponents (in his own party mainly) killed. Personally I think a reference to Nazi executions is somewhat over the top, Vernon. Again these are not sackings – just terms expiring. And who is not being reappointed:

It is understood the casualties include Meridian Energy director and former Labour staffer from the board of Quotable Value.

Tony Timms is the former Labour Party General Secretary and senior staffer in Helen Clark’s office. Polly Schaverien has been a staffer both in the Labour Party Research Unit and in Trevor Mallard’s office.This does not automatically disqualify them of course, but you know the outrage from Goff is just so hypocritical.

What is amazing is the sense of entitlement that Goff exhibits. How dare National not reappoint people he and Helen Clark selected.

One saw in Canada the same culture of entitlement in the Canadian Liberal Party after they were in power for many years. They had such a sense of entitlement that they handed out government advertising contracts to their mates, who agreed in turn to donate a portion back to the Liberal Party.

Incidentially NZ Labour once considered doing something similiar. Their general secretary in the late 80s floated the idea of having the Government give some contracts to Labour’s advertising agency, as Labour owed them lots of money and was having trouble paying. Luckily the idea was never taken forward but it shows the danger of having that sense or culture of entitlement.

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29 Responses to “Hypocrisy alert”

  1. Ratbiter (1,265 comments) says:

    “There is standard hypocrisy and then there is this.”
    “hsyterical claim”
    “the outrage from Goff is just so hypocritical.”
    “the sense of entitlement that Goff exhibits. How dare National not reappoint people he and Helen Clark selected.”

    Oh come now… Goff is just playing the game, and trying to score bullsh*t little political points wherever he thinks he can. You’ve been watching people play this game for a long time. Is Goff *really* the only one who’s ever done this?

    The only one who seems to be outraged is yourself ;-)

    [DPF: I've known MPs to get hypocritical in complaining the other side makes some partisan appointments. I've never known an MP to have the cheek to complain about the party that just won an election not appointing the losing Govt's best friends back onto boards]

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  2. Murray (8,845 comments) says:

    Looks like Phil In likes opposition.

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  3. jacob van hartog (300 comments) says:

    been offered a job DPF ?

    All that governance training ( not the Nick Smith kind, our future ambassador to Moscow) would be going to waste! Im sure you would be a wonderful choice for a SOE

    However ratbiter is right, there is a standard template that the press secretaries use , plus the Bain trial delays mean there was a news hole yesterday

    [DPF: I believe you need to apply and I have not applied. At some stage I may throw my CV at CCMAU if it seems appropriate]

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  4. JC (942 comments) says:

    “And we won’t even talk about the the fact that the reason Wellington got called Helengrad is that because anyone who dared to disagree with Labour was put on a blacklist. Not only would they not get board appointments – their firms would be ineligible for any government contracts. This was all common knowledge. Dozens of business leaders said they would never publicly criticise the Labour Government as they would be shut out.”

    First time I’ve seen such a statement in print. Nothing in the media, DPF?

    JC

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  5. Razork (375 comments) says:

    What is outrageous is that smarmy little smile that Goff has as he finishes each sound bite of tv.

    I throw up in my mouth a little bit every time.

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  6. Conor (26 comments) says:

    Perhaps he was referring to Harold Macmillan’s night of the long knives…

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  7. Wycroft (873 comments) says:

    Where’s Coran Lill’s splendid Cronywatch special diagram of Wellington cronies under Labour, from his NBR days, when you need it?

    Indeed, Phil Goff, or part man part verb as he’s known around here, is in rare form with this piece of hypocrisy.

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  8. Paulus (2,603 comments) says:

    JC – where do you come from. As a former Wellington corporate CEO many of us were aware of the almost total political “bias”.

    How could you accept MSM said no such statement in print – they did not dare as “mates” and sympathisers of Clark, Simpson etc (and some still are – see current TV3 political staff. Our “Dunky” of course).

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  9. virtualmark (1,510 comments) says:

    It’ll be great if the Nats ensure that the directors of SOE boards are picked for genuine commercial reasons rather than by crony-ism. And I hope they drop the requirements for Maori representation etc etc. Let’s just pick the best people for the job, regardless of their voting preference or race.

    But it’s early days yet. So far they’ve put John Judge in to ACC, but I think that’s the only appointment they’ve made so far? Still plenty of time to start handing out jobs for the boys yet. I do hope they stick to straight commercial grounds, but I’m sceptical that all Governments – including this one – find it hard to resist rewarding their mates with soft appointments.

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  10. Ross Miller (1,687 comments) says:

    Why shouldn’t a Party that now commands 28% voter support be entitled to 100% of the political appointments going?

    I for one would be very happy to see Michael Cullen appointed High Commissioner to Niue with Ratbiter and Jacob as his trusty gofors although I agree the 1,800 resident population might just have a view on that.

    On the other hand they have survived storm and pestilence before.

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  11. paradigm (452 comments) says:

    Normally people begin to ignore someone who is so desperate for attention they decide to bring up the Nazis (as per Godwin’s law). In Phil Goff’s case they weren’t paying any attention to begin with.

    Speaking of labour and long knives, bet ya Goff is worried that a night of the long BBQs is about to be held in the labour caucus…

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  12. Kimble (4,426 comments) says:

    Well done Phil Goff!

    It is about time someone from the Labour party brought back the hate.

    It has been… what?… a whole 6 months since Labour has been truly spiteful, dishonest, cowardly, patronising, and defended borderline corrupt behaviour in their own ranks.

    Goff didnt show much promise to start with, but he may yet turn out to be a Labour leader to rival Helen Clark for repulsiveness of character.

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  13. racer (257 comments) says:

    ‘JC
    First time I’ve seen such a statement in print. Nothing in the media, DPF?’

    Kiwiblog is more than capable of believing that into existence.

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  14. Manolo (13,518 comments) says:

    Phil “Dead man walking” Goff is deluded.

    The poor guy doesn’t realise yet his party good hammered last November. Let the fool Phil speak freely and continue embarrassing himself and the Labour Party.

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  15. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Umm,
    Date: 16 October 2006
    Source: From the Office of the Minister of Conservation

    Conservation Minister Chris Carter today announced the appointments to the Auckland Conservation Board.

    “I’m pleased to announce Jacqueline Beggs, Judith Gilbert and Carmen Kirkwood as new appointments”, Mr Carter said. “In addition, Jenny Kirk and Kathleen Walsh have been reappointed for a second term.”

    “I am confident the new make up of the board represents a broad spectrum of knowledge and a wide range of local communities and will give sound advice to the Department of Conservation on its policy and directions.”

    Imagine if they had all been men!

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  16. GPT1 (2,116 comments) says:

    I almost grudgingly admire Goff on this – it is a ballsy call to criticise the realignment of the public service after 9 years (and a late flurry) of partisan appointments. Still, it is Labour mo. Remember the overspending, the lies, Winston etc – and what did they campaign on? Trust. Got to give them points for shamelessness.

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  17. burt (8,206 comments) says:

    DPF

    Keep up – it’s OK when Labour do it….

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  18. PhilBest (5,120 comments) says:

    We might as well just go for the US system lock, stock and barrell, where all the appointments are transparently political. Not doing this merely penalises the Nats for their honourable behaviour; Labour does it anyway, and socialists will never reciprocate honourable behaviour. It is the nature and the agenda of socialism. Someone called it “the ratchet effect”.

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  19. wreck1080 (3,861 comments) says:

    Phil Goff is carrying on Helens legacy of spouting rubbish.

    The difference between Phil Goff as labour leader, and a John Key as national leader is that Goff will disagree with everything Key says because that is simply the way things are done. However, Key will agree with anything that makes sense, regardless of who says it.

    This was very notable with Helen Clark , she could not say a single nice thing about national . Even when national supported the antismacking bill, she went on the attack about how they supported the bill.

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  20. reid (16,227 comments) says:

    C’mon. Propaganda 101: accuse your enemies of that of which you are most guilty and do it loudly and often.

    It’s done precisely so it can be retrieved by Liarbore in 2011 as in “remember when.”

    The way to counter it is to respond accordingly, in this case by Ministers constantly referring to various political candidates Liarbore appointed whenever they talk to the media on any subject over the next few months. While you could issue a press release the media will never run it so you have to use the power of govt to say it louder and longer and in more detail than the Opposition can ever achieve.

    Drown them out.

    The trick is to recognise it for what it is when it happens and to understand why they’re doing it so you can develop an effective counter. In this the conservatives are at a disadvantage. They’re like children compared to the devious insidious execrable lefty propaganda machine. Lefties do propaganda like conservatives do market economics. Lefties study it endlessly, they practice and practice and practice. This is because their policies are so lousy that they have to put lipstick on the pig otherwise people wouldn’t ever let them at the controls. Look how successfully the Liarbore Party convinced people they were really good economic managers and how they weally weally cared. Of course in reality they have neither of these qualities but even now, many many intelligent professional people are convinced they didn’t do a bad job, all things considered. That’s the power of propaganda and the Nats had better wake the fuck up to it and start playing them and beating them at their own game, otherwise 2011 is going to bring a nasty nasty surprise for them.

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  21. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee snort snort eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee snort oink oink oink oink eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee snort oink snort eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…………………………….. a beautiful high pitch squealing sound, another socialist parasite being pulled from the tit.

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  22. calendar girl (1,214 comments) says:

    virtualmark: “… but I’m sceptical that all Governments – including this one – find it hard to resist rewarding their mates with soft appointments.”

    I agree in general with your thoughtful comments, but not this final reference. Appointments to most SOE Boards should not be “soft appointments”, and should not be regarded as such. They can (and should) involve legal responsibility and professional reputation risk. That is why the best available people must fill the jobs – whatever their political persuasion – not political party hacks.

    It would be a good start if candidates were scrutinised objectively and transparently against the standards of governance knowledge and experience established by the Institute of Directors. To do so would be no more than an initial filtering process, but it would give the public a measure of reassurance that the Government was not following the often shameful appointments record of its predecessor.

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  23. lofty (1,310 comments) says:

    side show bob (1289) Vote: Add rating 1 Subtract rating 0 Says:
    Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee snort snort eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee snort oink oink oink oink eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee snort oink snort eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee…………………………….. a beautiful high pitch squealing sound, another socialist parasite being pulled from the tit.

    quite right old son.

    12 months from now no one will give a shit.
    Oh wait….no one gives a shit now.

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  24. reid (16,227 comments) says:

    That is why the best available people must fill the jobs – whatever their political persuasion – not political party hacks.

    I think most people would agree with the sentiment, calendar girl, but embedding this into common practice will take a hell of a lot more than just doing what you suggest.

    Remember that politicians careers are built on favours. If you can’t pay someone back for some favour they’ve done for you, you won’t last long in politics. These favours range from rewarding a party hack, to a political colleague, to an important donar, to international appointments.

    Often it relies on indirect favours: you do my friend a favour and then I’ll arrange one for you.

    It’s bloody incestuous but that’s what makes politics what it is. Why for example do you think Hulun’s getting a look in to the UN job? Because she was PM of NZ or because the Govt is lobbying for her? Not bloody likely.

    Somewhere along the line she’s towed some important line, done some powerful people(s) some favour(s).

    This is how it works and to break it, which is a good idea, will take a lot more than the sorts of things you mention.

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  25. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,744 comments) says:

    Good to see National separating the wheat from the chaff.

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  26. Grizz (244 comments) says:

    John Key is a results driven person. If the various political appointments were not generating results, then replace them. If after a couple of years, SOEs and government departments improve results, then good on them.

    Dianne Yates is useless. She recently ran for council and could not even get enough votes for the 4 representatives from her ward. The only qualification that she has to be on a food boards is that she eats it. She never even represented herself properly. Her election photographs were 20 years old and never came close to her true appearance.

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  27. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,744 comments) says:

    Grizz says on March 24th, 2009 at 11:12 pm:

    She never even represented herself properly. Her election photographs were 20 years old and never came close to her true appearance.

    How quickly the Apprentice learns from the Master.

    It’s an old trick used by Helen Clark on many an occasion.

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  28. virtualmark (1,510 comments) says:

    calendar girl … I think you’ll find that all SOE directors will have attended the IoD’s one-week introductory course to being a company director and will be members of the IoD. But good as that is those qualifications are no substitute for good old commercial nous, insight and experience.

    I’ve dealt with several SOE boards. What’s clear is that in each case there’s a Board-within-the-Board, where typically 2-3 of the directors seem to get stuck doing all the heavy lifting while the rest do little more than attend the meetings. This is a direct consequence of appointing directors who don’t have sufficient commercial experience, who don’t bring highly valuable skills to the board (such as deep legal or tax knowledge) and/or who are there in order to “develop” that commercial experience to then take back to their iwi etc.

    Personally, I think the Government should focus on appointing very very strong Chairs to the Boards and then allow themselves to be guided by those Chairs as to Board composition, rather than telling the Chair which patsies they’re going to be stuck with for the next 3 years. Unfortunately, like Reid, I think the practice of political patronage is so ingrained, and so many favours are owed, that Governments are unable to take purely commercial decisions. We should call that patronage what is … corruption.

    Oh, and I also think that SOE directors should be paid market-level directors fees. Frankly, if you look at what SOE directors are paid, then consider that no only do they have the standard commercial/reputational risks that all directors face but they also have major political risk from capricious Ministers who’ll hang anyone to save their skin, then why on earth would anyone decent want to be an SOE director? If you pay peanuts then only the monkeys will apply for the job …

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  29. calendar girl (1,214 comments) says:

    virtualmark: A useful insight into SOE Board operation. I can’t agree with your first paragraph, though – a large proportion of SOE appointees only get near the IOD and its training programmes as a result of their appointments. They also rely on the entity to pay their costs which is a bit rich when they come to the role supposedly qualified to act in a governance role.

    But I do agree that the IOD mechanisms are no more than a starting point – as I pointed out in my earlier post. There’s no substitute for broad commercial experience, most of it hopefully in the private sector.

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