Alf would rather see more media focus on the need for a Family Commission than the rationale behind the appointment of Christine Rankin as a commissioner.
They should examine its purpose, its resources, its costs, its accomplishments, and so on, so we would be better able to judge what sorts of people would make good commissioners.
His thinking is reinforced by the Sunday tabloids’ delving into the suicide of the late Margo McAuley, whose widower, Kim MacIntyre, became Rankin’s fourth husband.
Today Sunday News can reveal the mother-of-two hired by the National administration to bring families closer together has been accused of being instrumental in the demise of a marriage of around one year, which ended last year with the lonely death of a prominent real estate agent.
The Sunday News goes on to salivate:
One month after McAuley died, Rankin and MacIntyre were videoed dancing together on election night at the National Party’s celebrations at Auckland’s Sky City Grand Hotel.
They now live together on Auckland’s North Shore.
Wellington businessman Kris Gallagher married to McAuley before MacIntyre told Sunday News his ex-wife had displayed symptoms of depression during their seven-year marriage but the condition appeared to him to worsen when she learned of MacIntyre’s affection for Rankin
The Herald on Sunday has a similar story:
New Families Commissioner Christine Rankin is facing fresh criticism after revelations she married a Wellington man just months after his previous wife took her own life.
Close friends and colleagues of Margo McAuley, 42, who died last October, say they are appalled at the circumstances of Rankin’s recent, fourth marriage and her Cabinet appointment to the Families Commission.
“Revelations” is bullshit.
According to the newspaper’s report, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett knew about the suicide when she made the appointment:
The Herald on Sunday has learned that Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett was told about McAuley’s death before the decision to appoint Rankin. Bennett refuses to comment.
It is understood Government ministers were aware of issues related to McAuley’s death and it is believed this is what prompted a heated discussion at Cabinet last Monday after Rankin’s appointment was revealed.
In short, the Herald (like the Sunday News) saw the Rankin appointment as a pretext for regurgitating domestic stuff about the threesome involved and revisiting Margo McAuley’s death.
McAuley, one of New Zealand’s top-performing real estate agents, took her own life on October 29.
She was married to Kim MacIntyre, who married Rankin less than six months after his wife’s funeral.
“The simple answer to this Christine Rankin situation is surely, surely the judgment shown has been appalling, hasn’t it?” said McAuley’s former boss, Tommy Hepinstall of Wellington firm Tommy’s Real Estate.
“If I died tomorrow I would hope my wife would remarry but for someone to marry someone after such a horrific death that Margo had, in such a short period of time… you have to wonder.
“Surely, surely anyone with a little bit of compassion for family, for work colleagues for anybody – I cannot believe that someone who is going to be [a senior member] of a thing called the Families Commission could make such a poor judgment call on families.”
So what exactly is a decent time before the couple could have married in these circumstances?
And would that have made the appointment any more acceptable?
Another close friend of McAuley believes her friend was battling many issues in her life, including some in her relationship.
The woman said she had received a text from McAuley 12 days before her death, which said: “I am struggling at the moment, Kim has told me he is thinking of leaving. He is going away for Labour Weekend to make his final decision so I am a bit shattered at the mo.”
She said McAuley’s family – she was one of 10 siblings but had no children of her own – had been distressed and angry after her death.
The woman questioned Rankin’s appointment.
“How could someone so insensitive be appointed to such a sensitive position? It makes a mockery of the Families Commission and to all those who love Margo.”
She said McAuley, MacIntyre and Rankin had all become friends – it is understood McAuley met Rankin when she was selling her house.
“I knew Kim because he was a friend, too, of course,” said the woman. “I feel very strange now especially when I see them together and they start holding hands – it’s weird.”
So the couple hold hands.
Obviously they are happy together.
That’s nobody’s business but theirs.
Revenue Minister Peter Dunne told the Herald on Sunday he had opposed Rankin’s appointment since he was first told it was a possibility in March, and before even considering the McAuley situation, “there were many other obvious reasons why Rankin was unsuitable to be a Families Commissioner.”
So why hasn’t the Sunday press explored these?
The answer is that it’s much, much easier to whet a public appetite for suicide and gossip than to thoroughlky examine all the factors behind Rankin’s fitness or otherwise to hold office – or whether there should be an office for her and the other commissioners to fill.