There is a pattern here!

Robert MacCulloch writes:

Our Worst Finance Minister Ever Grant Robertson (the one who created the cost-of-living crisis) wrote on his Facebook Page that “Chippy (Labour Leader Chris Hipkins) is my mate first and foremost. I worked out the other day I have known him for nearly 25 years. I was best man at his wedding”. And what do mates do for one another? Here’s what: the government appoints four members to Otago University’s Council, which in turn chooses the Vice Chancellor. On 23 December 2021, then Labour Education Minister Chris “Chippy” Hipkins appointed former Labour Party Cabinet Minister, Clare Curran, to the University of Otago Council. Yesterday, on 20 February 2024, it was announced Chippy’s mate, Grant Robertson, had been chosen by that same Council to be the next Vice Chancellor (VC), on a salary of $629,000 – Otago’s first ever non-academic VC in its 155 year history.

Few Vice Chancellor’s in the world come from non-academic backgrounds – NZ has selected several in the past, including the VC of Waikato, former UK Labour Party politician, Bryan Gould, who once ran for the Leadership of that Party (he was brought up in NZ), and Steve Maharey, a former Labour Party Minister who was VC of Massey. Seems they’re all part of the Labour Party Extended Families Association which gets “mates rates” – which in Labour’s case means higher, not lower, rates paid by you, the tax-payer, to fund their own.

Politics is about the pursuit of power; business the pursuit of money; universities the pursuit of truth. It’s a shame Otago University, with its proud history, has rejected the truth in favor of power and money. There should be a judicial enquiry into this scandalous use of public funds used to support a retiring politician who doesn’t have the energy to go on in politics (in his own words, “doesn’t have much left”), but is taking a job that requires far more energy than being an Opposition MP, at least to do it properly. Let’s wish him a happy semi-retirement (as Vice Chancellor).

I think this is a bit harsh on Grant. You can not have the energy for carrying on in politics but definitely have the energy for a new challenge outside politics.

And while I disagree with Grant on policies, I do regard him as a very competent manager of people, and can see why the Otago Council thought he would be a good VC.

But Robert touches on an interesting point. The only three non-academics appointed to be NZ Vice-Chancellors have all been Labour Party politicians.

If it is thought that ministerial experience can make a good vice-chancellor then why have we not seen any former National Ministers as VCs?

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