Ruthless

January 23rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

writes:

’s dramatic Cabinet reshuffle displays a streak of ruthlessness hitherto rarely seen in a New Zealand prime minister.

Ruthless is a very good word for it. I’m trying to recall the last time there was a reshuffle of this nature, and I can’t recall one. As I said yesterday generally Ministers are gently eased out at election time, or in the year before an election – allowing it to be arranged as a retirement. Or they are pushed out due to a major scandal or incompetence. To just dump two Ministers because you needed to rejuvenate the team, is a cold political call. It is however very much the correct one.

Above all, what the reshuffle does is put the entire Cabinet on notice.

Indeed. I suspect most Ministers also thought it would be a very minor reshuffle with Nick Smith just replacing David Carter. As news spread yesterday of two Ministers forced out, a cold sweat would have broken out with some of their colleagues thinking “That could have been me”. They will also be thinking “That could be me next time”. This is not a bad thing. Complacency is not a good thing in politics. No one should be thinking they have a eight or even expectation to remain a Minister for an entire Government. Renewal is crucial.

also calls it ruthless:

No-one saw the brutal dumping of long-time Cabinet ministers Kate Wilkinson and Phil Heatley coming – least of all them.

The usual route out of Cabinet for underperforming ministers is a slow slide down the rankings and reassignment to lesser portfolios.

But Prime Minister John Key, a man once known as banking’s smiling assassin, refused to offer them even that fig leaf, giving them just a few hours’ notice of their fate.

The smiling assassin. It’s nothing personal. It’s just necessary.

By launching 2013 in such dramatic fashion, Mr Key has signalled his intention to draw a line under those failures and regain the political initiative.

I think it shows significant determination that 2013 will not be like 2012. It also puts the acid on David Shearer’s reshuffle. It is widely acknowledged his front bench is not performing. Will he just move one or two people around or do a very significant reshuffle?

The Herald editorial approves:

With the Government holding up well in the polls, it would have been tempting for the Prime Minister to keep the changes in his forced Cabinet reshuffle to a minimum. Why, after all, change a winning formula? But in acting as boldly as he did yesterday, John Key has actually enhanced the prospects of prolonging his ministry. The Government has freshened its face at an appropriate time, rather than waiting until closer to next year’s general election, when such a shake-up would risk being seen as a mark of desperation.

I agree. Also it gives new Ministers a chance to score some runs on the board. If you become a Minister in the year before an election, it is hard to achieve much as election year is often so polarised.

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33 Responses to “Ruthless”

  1. Mighty_Kites (81 comments) says:

    So ruthless. So ruthless he did nothing to his worst-performing Minister, who will continue to provide juicy fodder for Chris Hipkins and other opposition MPs to mercilessly attack. So thanks John, thanks for being so ruthless

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  2. Graeme Edgeler (3,267 comments) says:

    Will he just move one or two people around or do a very significant reshuffle?

    Good to know the difference between a minor reshuffle (2 MPs) and a significant reshuffle (3 MPs).

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  3. Pete George (22,837 comments) says:

    It also puts the acid on David Shearer’s reshuffle.

    Shearer didn’t help himself yesterday in saying that Nick Smith was a retread.

    It will be interesting to see what Shearer does with his tired old wheels – few of whom would be a patch on Nick Smith as ministerial material. And Shearer doesn’t have much in the way of fresh new rubber to promote.

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  4. eszett (2,334 comments) says:

    Ruthless spin machine overdrive!

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  5. pq (728 comments) says:

    I only know about Kate, and she was a complete waste of time down here and up there

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  6. Manolo (13,367 comments) says:

    Ruthless? DPF, you could start a career as fiction writer any day!

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  7. Pete George (22,837 comments) says:

    As reported by 3 News:

    Labour leader David Shearer says new Minister of Housing Nick Smith is a “retread from the past without any new ideas”.

    http://www.3news.co.nz/David-Shearer-wastes-no-time-attacking-Nick-Smith/tabid/1607/articleID/284076/Default.aspx

    When Shearer first became leader he promised he would be a different sort of politician. The only difference he has shown so far is his inability to speak articulately and unrehearsed/unparroted.

    Now’s his opportunity to show if he has any idea how to lead a party.

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  8. Dean Papa (737 comments) says:

    a Cabinet without a Ruth?

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  9. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    Well its about time we saw some responsibility in all walks of life – and its a good example to start at the top.

    People who are not able to do the job need to get kicked out – because its always others who have to make up for them.

    Next I hope to see local bodies in the firing line…………….

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  10. RRM (9,451 comments) says:

    Plenty of good orchestras periodically rotate the string players so that it’s not always the same people sitting in the front desks.

    Key clearly has enough of what sports pundits call – with tedious inevitability – “depth”, he can afford to make use of it!

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  11. hj (6,350 comments) says:

    I see Nick espoucing the “developers wet dream” about “land supply” and reforming the RMA. The 《i》deafening silence《/i》 on the (independant) SavingsWorking Group is thanks to the biases of liberal journalists. The SWG put the blame for high house prices fairly and squarely on sucessive governments.

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  12. thor42 (916 comments) says:

    I agree with Manolo. “Gutless” is the term I’d use.
    Hopeless Hekia is still there, turning everything she touches to shite.
    Nick “the-sky-is-falling-we’re-all-gonna-die” Smith is back, not because of any talent, but because the PM lacks the *balls* to keep him out.

    This “reshuffle” is about as “ruthless” as being slapped with a wet bus ticket.

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  13. bhudson (4,734 comments) says:

    Labour leader David Shearer says new Minister of Housing Nick Smith is a “retread from the past without any new ideas”.

    Oh the irony of the man who clearly has not cast his eye over his own caucus recently.

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  14. tvb (4,203 comments) says:

    You tone has hardened somewhat.

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  15. RRM (9,451 comments) says:

    Neville Key is a gutless fraud and Liarbor Lite are shit. I HATE EVERYTHING!!

    :-P Who am I?

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  16. Paulus (2,501 comments) says:

    I see that Mrs McGillicuddy, Greenpeace NZ Branch token leader, has called Nick Smith’s re-appointment “unethical”.
    He was conned by two unethical women, but more fool him.
    THe rest of the Cabinet reshuffle is a good look, rather a panic which will ensue when Shearer does nothing of consequence. He dare not.
    His luck will be helped help when Annnette King gets Wellington Mayoralty (over Greenpeace’s dead body mind you as current Mayor is doing a better than expected job), and Helen Kelly gets Rongotai and sorts Shearer out along with Robertson and little Little and their Union mates.

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  17. peterwn (3,160 comments) says:

    Same needs to be done with National’s ‘list’. Five (say) non MP’s need to be given ‘good’ list positions, a criterion being those who stood unsuccessfully for seats but delivered list votes in their electorates.

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  18. Viking2 (11,128 comments) says:

    ruth·less
    [rooth-lis] Show IPA
    adjective
    without pity or compassion; cruel; merciless: a ruthless tyrant.

    ruthless
    adjective merciless, hard, severe, fierce, harsh, cruel, savage, brutal, stern, relentless, adamant, ferocious, callous, heartless, unrelenting, inhuman, inexorable, remorseless, barbarous, pitiless, unfeeling, hard-hearted, without pity, unmerciful, unpitying a ruthless totalitarian power

    NO doesn’t fit those adjectives.

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  19. Viking2 (11,128 comments) says:

    No one has mentioned Williamson. As useless as Wilkinson but remains on his great salary.

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  20. Viking2 (11,128 comments) says:

    And as for Smith fixing housing costs, he doesn’t even know ,like so many others, where the problem actually is created.
    Its not money, land or building costs.
    Its about peoples expectations and developers covenants.

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  21. Manolo (13,367 comments) says:

    Isn’t Maurice Williamson the once National Party minister who halved the life of the NZ passport on the grounds of “improved security”? Ah, the liar and thief.

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  22. Frederick (39 comments) says:

    Hmmm I note that DPF has been rather selective in his choice of editorials. No chance of this Dominion Post editorial being selected for inclusion.

    “What they have had for the past year is a minister who is woefully out of her depth, and who resorts to meaningless jargon when asked to explain the policies she is implementing.

    Education Secretary Lesley Longstone paid the ultimate price for the class size, Christchurch school closure and Novopay debacles that dogged education in 2012, but Ms Parata must also bear a considerable share of the blame.

    Her abject failure to explain the merits of plans to marginally increase class sizes and use the savings to boost teacher quality fuelled the massive public backlash that forced the Government’s embarrassing U-turn.

    She also failed to ensure that Christchurch parents, teachers and school boards led the reorganisation of schools in the city, instead allowing it to be run by bureaucrats in Wellington.”

    Why is DPF so silent on her failings. Lets face it if this was a labour minister we would probably have a daily report on the torrent of critical media comment on her abject performance, punctuated by the odd strategic “Ouch”.

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  23. Manolo (13,367 comments) says:

    Why is DPF so silent on her failings?

    Could loyalty and blind faith be the answer?

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  24. thedavincimode (6,532 comments) says:

    Manolo

    Haven’t you got some crime reporting to do?

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  25. Jack5 (4,589 comments) says:

    Key ruthless?

    Not by this Cabinet reshuffle.

    National PRs and Bellamy-bamboozled press gallery denizens label John Key’s reshuffle as the decisive action of a ruthless leader. The former are interested in public perceptions, the latter work in a political goldfish bowl.

    Hekia Parata’s still in the Cabinet after the teacher payroll fiasco. This might have begun under another Government, but National has been slow to confront the problem. How can the reshuffle be ruthless when she stays?

    Key is a high-stakes gambler, an adrenalin addict, as his currency trading success showed. He can hold positions long after others have crumbled, and can cut losses where others would procrastinate. He enjoys the adrenalin of high risk positions, such as letting the NZ dollar stay madly high, and such as his post-election about-turn on smacking legislation. Perhaps even keeping Parata – against public expectations — pumps a little adrenalin.

    Folk who seek kicks to counter adrenalin deficiency are often impulsive. Perhaps the Cabinet reshuffle, to a mild extent — and the backtracking on smacking legislation, to a major extent– are the impulsivity of an adrenalin junkie.

    Without having his personal fortune at stake in NZ politics, IMHO the likelihood is that John Key will suddenly find it all too boring — too adrenalin deficient — and beetle off to Hawaii permanently.

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  26. BeaB (2,058 comments) says:

    I love the media saying ‘no-one’ saw it coming. All that means is they missed it completely after days of telling us confidently the only change of any significance was Nick Smith’s return.
    So much for our so-called pundits – even the ones like Barry Soper who were with Key in Antarctica and thought he had the PM’s ear.
    Big fail to media.
    Big ups to John Key yet again.

    And as for those like Nash and Jack5 who think Key is only in it for kicks and/or a knighthood. That shouts volumes about their own shallow values and what they would do if they were able to choose.

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  27. Jack5 (4,589 comments) says:

    RE BeaB at 2.10:

    …And as for those like Nash and Jack5 who think Key is only in it for kicks and/or a knighthood. That shouts volumes about their own shallow values and what they would do if they were able to choose.

    It’s not about values, but about brain chemistry.

    Key and others who enjoy risk are just following their brain imperatives. They have lower levels of dopamine and need novelty – and/or risk — to stimulate their brains.

    I bet you won’t find any currency, futures, commodities traders with Key’s level of success who isn’t low on dopamine.

    People who can make Prime Ministers are a dime a dozen, as the Americans say. People who can make superb market traders, like Key, are rare.

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  28. Rex Widerstrom (5,259 comments) says:

    BeaB notes:

    I love the media saying ‘no-one’ saw it coming. All that means is they missed it completely after days of telling us confidently the only change of any significance was Nick Smith’s return

    Ahhh, perhaps that’s why it’s seen as ruthless in some quarters – not to the Ministers involved but to the tame journos and party apparatchiks who weren’t tipped off so they could fake prescience! :-D

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  29. Manolo (13,367 comments) says:

    but to party apparatchiks who weren’t tipped off so they could fake prescience!

    Blasphemy! :-)

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  30. publicwatchdog (2,106 comments) says:

    How come in the recent NZ Ministerial ‘reshuffle’, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key hasn’t (yet) stood down the Minister for Regulatory Reform and Small Business, Associate Minister of Commerce and Education – the arguably ‘not-so-Honorable’ John Banks, Act Leader and MP for Epsom?

    John Banks has been summoned by Judge Moss to appear in the Wellington District Court on Monday 11 February 2013:

    CRI . 1085501327

    BETWEEN:

    Graham Edward McCready, Informant V The Honourable John Archibald Banks, Defendant

    Charges :

    1 . Charge of “As a candidate in a local body election transmitted a return of electoral expenses knowingly that is was false in a material particular contrary to Section 134 (1) of the Local Electoral Act 2001″

    REMEMBER THIS?

    “I can tell you that when I signed my declaration for the mayoralty I signed it in good faith in the knowledge as a Justice of the Peace as true and correct. I have nothing to fear and nothing to hide and I welcome the inquiry and everything will come out in the wash,..”.

    John Banks 29 April 2012

    http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news/transcript-david-parker-john-banks-interview-4856871

    Q+A: Transcript of David Parker and John Banks interview
    Published: 3:38PM Sunday April 29, 2012 Source: Q+A

    “JOHN
    I think you think I came up the river on a cabbage boat. I can tell you that when I signed my declaration for the mayoralty I signed it in good faith in the knowledge as a Justice of the Peace as true and correct. I have nothing to fear and nothing to hide and I welcome the inquiry and everything will come out in the wash, Mr Holmes. I’m more invested in the real issues of investment growth and jobs and providing working opportunities for 80,000 of our kids that are out of school and out of luck.

    PAUL
    But are you saying – because it is illegal, you know, don’t you, that if you know where a donation came from, to claim it was anonymous. So is what Mr Dotcom is saying about – your eyes perked up, your eyes went big at the mention of 50 grand. And so the fella gets the chequebook out and you’re sitting there and he writes a cheque. I mean, are you saying that he’s lying? Because that’s what he’s saying.

    JOHN
    I don’t know why you’re going on about this. I have nothing to hide.

    PAUL
    Is he lying?

    JOHN
    It’s a media beat-up. Yesterday I was going to jail. Today I’m going to be cleared. I mean, that’s what the media get up to, and you’re beating it up again. Look, we’ve got an inquiry…

    PAUL
    Mr Banks.

    JOHN
    I’m very happy to have the inquiry. (CHUCKLES)…….”

    Really?

    Is John Banks ‘fit for duty’ as a JP – let alone a Minister of the Crown?

    You may remember that former National Government Ministers, Richard Worth and Pansy Wong both left Parliament, (not just their former Ministerial positions) under a cloud, although neither faced proceedings in Court?

    Is it because this MINORITY National Government – with only 59 out of 121 MPs is desperately reliant on the pivotal vote of ‘dodgy’ John Banks, that PM John Key is continuing his shonky defence of the arguably indefensible?

    Given that Prime Minister John Key’s apparently shonky actions over the Sky City Convention ‘deal’ are under review by the Office of the Auditor-General, then perhaps the public shouldn’t expect too much in terms of ethical leadership at the highest levels of the NZ Government – despite NZ’s ‘perceived’ status as the (first equal) ‘least corrupt country in the world’?

    http://www.transparency.org/cpi2012/results

    Penny Bright

    ‘Anti-corruption campaigner’

    http://www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com

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  31. Rodders (1,790 comments) says:

    Back to the good old days

    http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/YO56TaLlNBs/John+Banks+Len+Brown+Quized+Sale+Street+Brewery/-xuGXVVoZxN/Penny+Bright

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  32. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    Key is obviously being advised by his superiors. Churchill talked about his superiors. Funny how the academics never bring this out about Churchill’s writings.

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  33. Manolo (13,367 comments) says:

    For the first time ever Miss Dim is right: Banks should’ve been axed this time round.

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