This week seems the ministerial reshuffle implemented, and it will be a tough week for many MPs and staff affected.
On the staffing front, you may be unaware that parliamentary staff lose their jobs if their Minister is demoted. But you also lose your job if your MP is promoted to be a Minister (as different employers). Also if your party loses an election you lose your job but also if your party wins an election you lose your job! Some get rehired, of course. But there are few jobs where you can learn at one hour’s notice you no longer have a job – no consultation, no notice, no appeal. As I say often, don’t choose to work at Parliament if you want stability.
It is of course equally tough for the Ministers involved. I know MPs are not the most beloved of creatures (even though most people like the local ones they actually know), but again not the most stable of jobs where you can learn with an hour’s notice you lose your job as a Minister, let alone everything that goes with the job.
Most MPs are pretty sympathetic to those who get demoted, but Hone Harawira was particularly ungracious with his comments on Phil Heatley:
Yesterday, Mr Harawira said on National Radio’s Morning Report that the sacking of Mr Heatley would be a welcome relief for low-income families.
He said Mr Heatley presided over policies which make it harder to access affordable housing and called him a smarmy p**** who put poor people down by making jokes about them.
Mr Heatley wasn’t too concerned about the insult, but said poverty was no laughing matter.
“Local people who know me and who know Hone are quite capable of making their own judgment on our respective characters,” the Whangarei MP said. “That aside, I take welfare policy seriously. Poverty is no joking matter.”
Phil’s one of the nicest guys around, in fact. And the way he (and Kate) has taken the demotion is totally absent any rancour or bitterness:
Mr Heatley’s demotion took everybody by surprise and the MP heard he was to be dropped only that morning.
He said he would now be able to put more time into issues affecting Northland and would be pushing for better infrastructure, including road and rail, better broadband coverage and speeds, electricity supply security and economic development.
Mr Heatley said he would be working closely with Northland MP Mike Sabin to help address those issues.
I have no doubt Phil and Kate are bitterly disappointed. You’d be inhuman not to be. But the way they both have taken the decision speaks volumes about their characters.