Garner on the misfits in Government

A brutal column by Duncan Garner. Some extracts:

I mean Golriz the Green was even hailing a 500-bed prison as a stunning success, a fresh approach to rehabilitation, until someone pointed out the truth. The double bunks she railed against were still there, and now in every second cell. Reality over principle is called cost.

They’d rather double bunk prisoners have that enough cells. And they call it a win.

It’s taken them three minutes to look as shabby, arrogant and as broken-down as a third-term government suffering rampant hubris and pleading to be put out of its misery. 

What is becoming apparent is the inability or unwillingness of the Prime Minister to discipline Ministers. John Key dispatched several Ministers when they erred, but it seems there is no limit to what you can do in this Cabinet. Look at just the last few months:

  • A Health Minister who bribes a DHB Chair with the promise of future appointments if he stops speaking to the media
  • A Communications Minister who caused the resignation of a top Radio NZ manager by improperly meeting her outside established channels
  • A Foreign Minister with a pro-Russian foreign policy
  • An unnamed NZ First Minister who sends in backbench MPs to threaten opposition MPs that projects won’t get funded if they stay involved with them
  • A Regional Development Minister who routinely calls on board chairs to resign
  • An Acting PM (Davis) who is unable to answer questions in the House, or in select committee, or in interviews
  • A Defence Minister who uses the Air Force as a taxi service

Could be a former prime minister at age 40? Perhaps. Maybe that’s unfair. Maybe not.

Lots of UN jobs out there, if so.

The oil and gas industry is on death row, no debate, no consultation, no future, just the rotten smell of decay when Ardern slipped on the destroy button – otherwise known as her climate change moment. An astonishing instance, making history by closing an entire industry without a debate around the Cabinet table.

The most arrogant move of all.

Andrew Little was finally doing himself justice until he publicly fell for one of the old dog’s tricks, believing Winston would support a headline that read “Soft on crime works, violent offenders to rehabilitate in the safety of your street”.

My question is why did Ardern even wait for Peters to hit the kill switch when, as PM, she had every right to pull the plug on dumb ideas. That she didn’t shows a worrying reluctance to play the ruthless card that Helen Clark wielded like a stick hovering over errant but scared and shaking ministers on an almost daily basis.

Both Clark and Key could be ruthless with their Ministers. But with Ardern there seems to be no fear of consequences.

Then there’s Willie, and someone called Carmel, and Stu’s 1800 cops that is really 1000. Oh dear, prime minister, rest up, use your pregnant pause wisely, take care and use your newly found parenting skills on your return to running your Government.

In the meantime, Grant’s directing play, but Winston’s in charge.

It might actually run smoother with Grant in charge, than Ardern.

Ardern has very impressive communication skills, but you need more than that to be PM. You need to actually manage what can be a very challenging team of Ministers.

Key was very good at this. He had regular performance appraisals with his Ministers. Every three months or so they would have one on one meetings to discuss the political and policy goals they were aiming for, and receive counsel from him on how they were going.

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