Alas, the online auction for an honorary consulship has been revealed to be the work of an inventive blogger rather than a Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry initiative, The Dominion Post says.
The bidders who offered half a million dollars, Holden utes and assignations with supermodels in exchange for the position will instead have to earn the good opinion of Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters if they wish to add the title honorary consul to their letterheads. The auction was pulled by Trade Me after receiving “a number of complaints” and because the seller was unable to deliver the item listed.
But this is an idea whose time has come. And it is one that should be applied to a wider range of positions than just honorary consulships. Instead of assigning plum diplomatic posts to politicians who fancy a spot of OE before heading off to tend the flower beds and write indignant letters to the local newspaper, they should be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Surplus cabinet positions should also be put under the hammer. Everybody knows there is barely enough work for 15 ministers. The remaining ones should be flogged off, and so should national honours …
But a formal auction would be manifestly superior. Not only would it widen the pool of bidders and direct funds to the consolidated account rather than party coffers, it would also avoid the sort of confusion that now hovers over the most recent Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn. Did he get the honour because he gave $7.5 million to Auckland University’s new business school or because he gave the Labour Party $500,000 and loaned it a further $100,000?
An auction would also avoid the speculation that now surrounds Mr Glenn’s interest in being appointed honorary consul to Monaco. Was he responsible for the large anonymous donation NZ First president Dail Jones says appeared in the party’s bank account late last year but that Mr Peters says was never made? He’s not saying. In an open, transparent system there would be no need for confusion or obfuscation. Bidders could make known their identities and would receive the heartfelt thanks of the populace, spared the cost of footing at least part of the Government’s bill.
Let the bidding commence.
The only way this story can get better is if Winston now goes ahead and actually appoints Glenn.