Other Board Appointments

April 8th, 2009 at 10:50 am by David Farrar

Most of the focus yesterday was on Dr Cullen’s appointment. There were some other interesting ones.

The Dom Post reports that Don Brash was appointed to the Transpower Board and Judy Kirk to chair the Lotteries Commission.

Transpower is a good choice for Don. It’s the only SOE that he doesn’t believe should be sold off at some stage :-)

The Lotteries Commission is the traditional repository for senior party officials, and Judy has six years of board chairmanship skills to bring to it so her appointment is no surprise and I would say uncontroversial. I would caution though that National should never get to the stage they did in the 1990s where every single member of the Board was a senior National official. That was an awful look.

I have blogged in some detail in the past on Government Appointments. The summary of my advice was:

  1. Never have those with political connections forming a majority or even close to a majority on a board.
  2. Unless someone was already a professional company director (or widely seen as possessing similar skills), they should not be appointed to more than a couple of boards.
  3. Appointees must bring genuine value to a board – their appointments must be based on merit, even if they have political connections.
  4. The more important a board, the more critical it is that the apointees be top class.

Another interesting aspect is that Phil Goff a couple of weeks ago, unwisely complained that National was engaging in a witch-hunt against Labour Party supporters. His whinging was because Tony Timms and Polly Schaverien were not reappointed to Meridian Energy Board.

The appointment of Cullen should show how stupid his whining was. But to further highlight how off the beam he was, I quote from Simon Power:

“Joanna Perry (Genesis), Polly Schaverien (MetService) and Ian Donald (Transpower) have been elevated to deputy chair,

So Polly Schaverien has been elevated to MetService Deputy Chair despite being a former Labour Researcher and Mallard staffer. So again where is this witch hunt Goff complained about?

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Hypocrisy alert

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

I almost choked as I read in the Dom Post:

Labour leader Phil Goff said the moves were “a witch-hunt” against board members simply because they were not National 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 Polly Schaverien and former Labour staffer Tony Timms 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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