Labour only against state servants not standing for Labour!

March 13th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

State servants are facing increasing political scrutiny as some push for a seat in Parliament while hanging on to their day jobs.

The Families Commission faced accusations of “politicisation” from Opposition MPs yesterday after one of its commissioners was spotted supposedly campaigning with Prime Minister John Key.

During a parliamentary select committee hearing yesterday, Labour MP Rajen Prasad, himself a former chief families commissioner, said current commissioner Parmjeet Parmar was pushing for a spot on the National Party list and was already campaigning.

He said he had seen her with Key wearing a blue party rosette at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland during the weekend.

Parmar is a Government appointee, not a state servant. And the irony of the accusation coming from Dr Prasad who became a Labour MP in the same year as he was Chief Families Commissioner!

She said another staff member was intending to run as candidate for Labour, which he had declared to the commission. They had already discussed with him how to separate his political activities from his work.

Labour’s view is that it is only wrong for people at the Families Commission to stand for Parliament, if it is not for Labour!

The staff member who is a Labour candidate is Rob McCann, who is the White Ribbon Campaign Manager at the Families Commission. He’s not just wearing the odd rosette – he’s personally attacking Government Ministers on his Facebook page:

  • “Good to see Labour tackling what has been such an intrusive and yet secretive government. Odd how Key is happy to spy on us, yet call in the police over a teapot tape.”
  • “Excellent day fundraising with the Waikanae Branch of the Labour Party. All proceeds going towards giving John Key a permanent holiday in Hawaii.”

But worse of all, he is promoting a graphic attacking the very Minister in charge of the Families Commission:



I’m all for public servants being able to stand for Parliament. Tim Groser did so. But I’ve never before seen a public servant promoting graphics personally attacking the Minister in charge of the body that employs them. I suggest Mr McCann views the recent SSC video!

I note that several of his attacks on Government Ministers on his Facebook page are done during work hours, such as this one at 10.30 am last Thursday or this one on Tuesday at 11.12 am. So presumably he’s doing his attacks while at work.

Bravo – Labour wants to scrap a quango

October 30th, 2013 at 2:28 pm by David Farrar

Jacinda Ardern has announced:

Labour will scrap the Families Commission to prioritise work on reducing child poverty, its Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

Bravo. I’m all for Labour finding quangos they want to scrap. May they locate many more of them.

Sadly this may be a one off. I think this is the first time in five years they have found a quango they want to scrap. But hey, a start is a start.

Labour of course set up the Families Commission in (I think) 2005 as part of a coalition deal with United Future.

Maybe the Ministry of Women’s Affairs could be next?

Families Commissioners

April 17th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Former Chief Families Commissioner turned Labour MP, Rajen Prasad, has hit out at the current Families Commission Chief for reportedly saying Labour’s plan to extend paid parental leave is unaffordable.

Dr Prasad told Newstalk ZB’s Larry Williams it’s wrong for the Chief Commissioner to make a decision that the government and Treasury should make.

“The Chief Commissioner by taking this view has just tainted his own reputation by taking a view that’s been taken by the government and in that way his independence is just compromised.”

I don’t know about you, but personally I think having the Chief Families Commissioner retire then pop up on the Labour Party list does far more to tarnish the reputation of the office, and compromise its independence.

Dr Prasad’s anger is because the Chief Commissioner made the rather obvious point that there is less money available than in the past. Treason to Labour.

A further story reports:

Rajen Prasad says Mr Davidson’s credibility has been damaged by his reported comments and he now has two choices – to retract his comments and say he got it wrong or to resign.

Disgraceful bullying of public servants.

Families Commission on Maori Seats

September 6th, 2009 at 1:38 pm by David Farrar

Just watching a recording of Q&A and Paul Holmes has revealed that the Families Commission put in a submission on the Auckland Council legislation advocating for Maori Seats.

They defended their submission on the grounds that how Auckland is governed can affect families/whanau. What a ridicolous justification.

I would say every law passed by Parliament can be argued to have an impact on families. That doesn’t mean we need to be putting in millions of dollars into the Families Commission to be making submissions on laws that really are well outside what should be their core area of focus.

I’m still unconvinced we get anything near value for money by having a Families Commission. Some of the stuff they have been involved in is useful (I think the anti domestic violence TV ads are quite good), but these may well have occurred even if there was no Families Commission.

Psychological Abuse

August 25th, 2009 at 9:13 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports on a survey by the Familes Commission:

A national survey reported today by the Families Commission has found that one in every seven Kiwi men say their partners get angry if they speak to other women, compared with only 9 per cent of women who say the same about their male partners.

Men are also more likely than women to say their partners stop them seeing friends and relatives, and keep track of them “in a controlling or frightening way”.

Overall, 23 per cent of men – compared with 19 per cent of women – report at least one of the six kinds of “psychological abuse”, which range from being put down or abused to the children being harmed.

That’s fascinating findings. In terms of physical abuse:

Long-term studies of people born in Christchurch and Dunedin in the 1970s have also found similar proportions of men and women being assaulted by their partners, but crime and health statistics show men are responsible for the vast majority of serious violence.

That makes sense.

While the Herald focused on more men than women suffering psychological abuse, the Dom Post takes a different approach:

Almost a third of Kiwi women and one in five men will experience violence and abuse at the hands of their partners.

I never like it when a story groups together two things – violence and abuse. I don;’t know whether abuse means violent abuse or psychological abuse such as detailed above. While both are bad, there is a difference between hitting someone and calling them a name.

I went to the Families Commission website to try and read the report for myself so I could work out what the actual stats means. Sadly they have not even out teh report online. This is basic stuff – always have the full report available on your website frontpage the day it will appear in the media.

If any journalist has a copy of the full report, I’d appreciate a copy if possible.

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.

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.

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.

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.

$200k summit canned

December 10th, 2008 at 6:22 am by David Farrar

The Families Commission has axed a $200,000 “summit” for 150 people at Waipuna Lodge, after Paula Bennett raised concerns about its appropriateness in today’s challenging economy. Paula sets a great example for other Ministers, and jut you wait – the $200,000 summits are the tips of the iceberg. Then there are the multi million advertising campaigns.

Ms Bennett acknowledged the Families Commission conference was proposed a year ago in good economic times by its previous commissioner, Rajen Prasad.

“But I think they need to recognise the times we are in now. I struggle to see the direct result it’s going to have in making a better life for families.”

The commission’s chief commissioner, Jan Pryor, said she was surprised at Ms Bennett’s stance at such a late stage, as it was well-known that the commission had been planning the summit for more than a year.

The commission had tried unsuccessfully to find sponsors to finance the conference, and had moved toward changing the agenda to focus more on responses to the developing economic crisis.

So they were not going to attract their budgeted income for the conference, yet still go ahead with it. And more curious, there seemed to be no fixed reason for having the conference – they just changed it to whatever was topical.

The Families Commission

August 23rd, 2008 at 10:13 am by David Farrar

Simon Collins at the NZ Herald looks at what may happen to the Families Commission:\

New Families Commission head Jan Pryor is surprisingly relaxed for someone whose new empire may be wiped out in a few months time.

Her predecessor, Dr Rajen Prasad, also 62, is tipped to be named on Labour’s election list next Saturday.

That would be an interesting twist to the term rejuvenation.

For National, the most likely election winner, this may be the final insult from a body it has never liked. National MP Judith Collins has not forgotten that Prasad attacked former National leader Don Brash after his 2005 Orewa speech for “driving a wedge” between families on domestic purposes benefit and other families.

By contrast, she says, the commission has never criticised any Labour policy. She is coy about whether National will again propose merging the commission with the Children’s Commissioner as it did at the last election, but it’s clear that the commission is fighting for its life.

I have a list of three commissions which could go – electricity, tertiary education and families. It is a growing list!