Herald slates ill prepared Ministers

The Herald editorial:

Perhaps the most concerning facet of the Government’s latest ministerial embarrassment was a comment yesterday from a former Labour Party president, Mike Williams. He told Newstalk ZB the incident reflected a lack of training for those appointed ministers. “I think it’s probably lack of supports,” he said. “Ministerial Services don’t seem to think it’s their job to give these new ministers basic instructions on staffing.”

It certainly should not be the service’s job. It shouldn’t be anyone’s job to give a minister basic instructions in how to manage a small staff. Voters and taxpayers have a right to expect that all of the people a political party offers for election — let alone those chosen to be ministers in a government — possess the personal qualities needed at any level of leadership.

Support and training is given to Ministers. The Cabinet Office and Ministerial Services provide advice and support.

Also traditionally the PMs Office plays a key role. If a Minister is struggling, the PM’s Chief of Staff may arrange for a senior Minister to mentor a junior Minister. Or they may assign more staffing support. Or they may tell the Minister they need to pull their head in.

This is part of being a competent Government.

Some of the MPs promoted to lower ministerial ranks these days are hardly known to the public. Few outside her home region probably knew we had a minister named until Thursday’s announcement of her suspension while an investigation is held into an alleged altercation with a new staff member. But it turns out that before being elected to Parliament from Ikaroa-Rawhiti she was chief executive of the country’s third largest iwi, Ngati Kahungunu, for four years.

That suggests she has some experience in dealing with staff. Nor is she new to the culture of the public service and the Beehive, having been a senior adviser to a previous Minister of Maori Affairs. 

And she is a staunch unionist, which should mean dedicated to being a good employer.

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