Bennett v Rankin

December 15th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Espiner reports:

The Conservative Party is poised to stand its high-profile chief executive Christine Rankin against National’s Paula Bennett in Upper Harbour, setting up a potential battle of the former solo mums next election.

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times that the party’s board had formally asked the controversial former boss of Work and Income New Zealand to stand in next year’s general election. …

Bennett and Rankin have similar back stories; both grew up in households without much money, had children at a young age and raised them alone on the domestic purposes benefit. Both ended up in charge of their former paymaster; Rankin as chief executive of Work and Income New Zealand and Bennett as Minister of Social Development.

It will be an interesting contest. I suspect both women will agree on a lot of stuff around welfare reforms but perhaps disagree in other areas.

Polling had indicated Rankin would do well in the proposed electorate that would wrap around the north and west of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. …

Independent polling by Research Solutions for the Conservatives obtained by the Star-Times shows Rankin has 24 per cent support in Upper Harbour, with 20 per cent opting for “another candidate” and a large 56 per cent undecided.

I’ve blogged on this before, but a poll which names only one candidate has little value in predicting the outcome of an election. A poll should either be totally unprompted (Which candidate or party’s candidate would you vote for) or totally prompted (Which of the following candidates would you vote for). A poll which just asks “Would you vote for Candidate A or some other candidate” has relatively little value.

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Rankin Danger

May 27th, 2009 at 9:05 am by David Farrar

NZPA report that Labour may try and prove Christine Rankin was having an affair with her latest husband, before his wife died:

The Government was challenged in Parliament today to say whether it would remove Christine Rankin from the Families Commission if it turned out she had been lying about rumours swirling around her private life.

Labour leader Phil Goff and two of his MPs, Annette King and Ruth Dyson, raised questions about Ms Rankin’s appointment to the commission.

The appointment was announced a fortnight ago by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

It was followed by reports in Sunday newspapers that Ms Rankin was involved in the break-up of the marriage between Wellington real estate agent Margo McAuley and Kim MacIntyre.

Ms McAuley was found dead in October last year. Ms Rankin and Mr MacIntyre were married in January.

Ms Rankin has publicly denied that she was having an affair with Mr MacIntyre at the time of Ms McAuley’s death.

So what exactly did Labour say:

Ms Bennett has said she heard about the rumours before the appointment, checked them out with Ms Rankin and was told they were baseless.

Mr Goff asked Prime Minister John Key what he would do if assurances Ms Rankin had given proved to be untrue.

Mr Key replied: “I can only accept people at their word and I accept the assurances that Christine Rankin gave to the New Zealand public at her word.”

Later, during a debate on the Families Commission, Ms Dyson put a question directly to Ms Bennett.

“I want to give her an opportunity to answer this – will she remove Christine Rankin if it turns out that she has been lying over the last few weeks about allegations that had been made of her?”

Now Labour has obviously had people approach them and say they think (or can prove) Rankin was having an affair with hew now husband.

This is a two-edged sword for Labour. As Rankin has denied any such affair (rather than simply say it was a difficult time for everyone and not go into detail) then it can be seen to be legitimate to raise the issue – as it is now one of honesty, not an affair. And if Rankin has not told the truth, and it can be proved, then her appointment would be threatened – by the lie, not by the alleged affair.

However Labour do risk a backlash that people will shoot the messenger, and resent them if they get up in the House and say “Miss X saw Rankin kiss Mr A at 10 am on this date”. It’s yucky stuff, and it may backfire. I think there has already been a minor backlash with a number of people telling me they hate Rankin, but are appalled at the attacks on her personal life.

Personally I think Labour will try and prove Rankin had an affair – otherwise they would not have had three senior MPs question the Government in teh House about it. My pick is that they will not front it themselves, but leave it for a Sunday newspaper to run with.

Ms King said Ms Bennett had not adequately investigated the rumours about Ms Rankin.

“I know what due diligence is,” Ms King said.

“It’s not a matter of getting on the blower and giving Christine a call and saying ‘what have you been up to, are any of the rumours circulating about you true?’,” Ms King said.

“Due diligence is ensuring that when you’re going to appoint someone to the Families Commission, you do the work.

“And you, minister, didn’t do the work.”

This does cause problems for Bennett. Personally I don’t think Rankin’s personal life affects her suitability to be a part-time Commissioner advocating for policies good for Families. Half the Commisioners are divorced for instance.

But by Rankin denying the affair on TV, she has opened the door to make this an issue about her honesty.

Ms Dyson went on to raise Ms Rankin’s appearance on TV One’s Dancing with the Stars programme.

She said Ms Rankin’s chosen charity for donations from viewers was a trust called For the Sake of our Children.

“The people who texted `Christine’ to Dancing with the Stars were donating to an organisation that employed two people and did no research, no service delivery, but only did advocacy,” Ms Dyson said.

“And the two people employed by For the Sake of our Children were Christine Rankin and her son.

“That is a very unusual charitable organisation where you would go publicly on television and say `I am dancing for a good cause’ – dancing for your own salary.”

I am not sure if the description of the Trust by Ruth Dyson is accurate, but if it is, I would have to agree it is not a good look.

UPDATE: Karl du Fresne has a good column on the Rankin attacks.

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HoS on Rankin

May 17th, 2009 at 10:48 am by David Farrar

After The Press earlier in the week alluded to issues around Christine Rankin’s latest marriage, it was inevitable the Sunday papers would go the whole hog, and sadly the HoS has.

I’m no fan of the Rankin appointment (mainly on political grounds), but I think this sort of scrutiny of personal life is way over the top. The Families Commission is not about Commissioners having perfect family lives, but about advocating for public policy that is good for families.

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Armstrong on Rankin

May 13th, 2009 at 9:44 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong looks at the Rankin appointment:

Christine Rankin’s appointment to the Families Commission is the closest John Key’s Government has come to seemingly losing its marbles in the six months since it won last year’s election.

The decision is political madness – unless one subscribes to the conspiracy theory that Rankin’s reputation and the unfortunate political baggage attached to the former head of Winz (now Work and Income) is craftily being used to discredit the autonomous Crown agency as a first step towards abolishing it.

That’s not the case. The Families Commission is too small and inoffensive to worry about.

The decision looks like political folly – unless you subscribe to the slightly more credible theory that Rankin has been installed on the commission’s board to shake up a sleepy outpost of government and make it start producing the kind of policy ideas a National Government likes to hear.

More likely.

However, Rankin is a far more unpopular and polarising figure. Furthermore, unlike Cullen’s, Rankin’s appointment carries huge risks for National. Her bolshiness and trouble have often been companions – as National found to its huge cost when it was last in Government.

It is difficult to see much upside politically in finding a job for someone remembered mainly for creating a “culture of extravagance”in the public service during her brief, but flamboyant tenure as a departmental chief executive.

The culture of extravagance was much exaggerated. We’ve actually seen worse from other Departments. However as I often say – in politics perception can be more important than reality.

And this is where the Rankin appointment is baffling. There is no doubt that the Rankin appointment would be controversial and unpopular in some quarters.

Further, it gives Labour a long-term target. I can guarantee you right now some spotty faced Labour reseaercher is making a diary note to file OIA requests every three months to the Families Commission seeking details of all travel and other expenses for the Commissioners. And they will happily highlight any expenses (even if reasonable – because the media will bite regardless).

So why would the Government make a controversial appointment, and buy a headache it does not need? Normally the reason is that the decision in question is too important to not do. Hence we get a motorway not a tunnel in Mt Albert, we get a suspension of Super Fund contributions etc etc.

But the Families Commission is almost an irrelevance. It is not like the Electricity Commission where if it stuffs up, you run out of power. So why use political capital unnecessairly?

Injecting a more conservative flavour into the commission’s work suggests Social Development Minister Paula Bennett is seeking alternative sources of advice than just that coming from her ministry’s officials – in the same way that Sir Geoffrey Palmer’s Law Commission became a think tank for Helen Clark when she wanted advice on justice and sentencing matters.

That’s possible, but I think unrealistic.

I have to admit, that this is one of the few Government decisions that has baffled me politically. That doesn’t mean I think Rankin will be a bad Commissioner – I don’t – just that the politics of it are, well to be blunt, somewhat stupid. Considerable pain for no gain.

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Hilarious hypocrisy

May 12th, 2009 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

Going back to the Rankin appointment, I can’t help but highlight this:

Green MP Sue Bradford said National was subverting the commission through political appointments, and accused it of sabotage.

Oh yes we can’t have political appointments to the Families Commission. I was thinking just that the other day as I sat in the Backbencher watching the former Chief Family Commissioner yell abuse and heckle National MPs, thinking this is what his job as a Labour List MP is about.

Pleased to see the Press has amended their story and deleted references to Rankin’s family.

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Demonising Rankin

May 12th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Christine Rankin is a polarising figure, and her appointment to the Families Commission always going to be a bit controversial. Personally I still think the Commission should be abolished, but Rankin may do some good there. But what the hell is Colin Espiner on by writing the following:

Rankin has been divorced three times.

She recently married her fourth husband, whose former wife was found dead in her Wellington home six months ago.

Police said the circumstances of the death were not suspicious.

Bad enough to focus on her marriages, as if never being divorced is a pre-requisite. But what the hell does the death of the former wife of her husband have to do with it, except to almost imply she was responsible for the death.

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