Time for a Cabinet shake-up

Alf has sent his best suit and most handsome tie to the dry-cleaner to ensure he looks smart and ministerial, when he – as he expects – is called to the Ninth Floor of the Beehive next week.

He reckons he has a bloody good chance of becoming a minister in a cabinet shake-up, after the woeful performance of some of his colleagues this week.

And if John Key is not thinking about a cabinet shake-up, then he should (Alf will be dropping him an e-mail to that effect along with a copy of his CV).

Let’s face it. What happened this week has been a political and managerial disgrace.

First, we had the broadcasting fiasco that has left the Maori Party gloating and our public broadcasting policy in shreds.

Now there’s the problem of winning support for the Government’s ACC changes to stop even bigger levy rises for workers, employers and motorists than those already on the cards for next year.

The Government must have the changes in place by February, when levies for 2010 are set, or it will preside over increases that will cost workers on the average wage more than $9 a week more – rather than $6 – from April 1.

But it emerged yesterday that ACC Minister Nick Smith had yet to get the numbers for a draft bill to make the changes.

He was consulting other parties about getting support for its introduction. The bill pushes back the date for fully funding ACC – meaning enough cash is set aside each year to cover the full cost of claims made that year – from 2014 to 2019.
It also strips away some ACC entitlements, in order to cut costs.

Labour and the Greens are against the entitlement cuts included in the bill. So Nick can’t expect support from then.

That leaves the Maori Party and ACT.

Both will want a quid for their quo.

The Maori Party isn’t likely to be too chuffed about cuts to compensation entitlements, especially those for seasonal workers, many of them Maori.

ACT leader Rodney Hide wants more extreme changes than those
proposed and the opening of ACC to private competition.

Looks like another bloody shambles to Alf.

Yep, Nick Smith is a party colleague, but he can be bit of a bloody dipstick.

He demonstrated that yesterday when he apologised for saying people might throw themselves “under a train” to get a payout for their families.

As part of cuts to ACC entitlements, the Government is removing support for the families of suicide victims or those who deliberately harm themselves.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Dr Smith said the family of a person who committed suicide could get up to $1 million in compensation.

“If my doctor told me that I was terminally ill and I had 30 days to live, with the ACC rules the way they are I’d be finding myself a train to throw myself under on the 29th day because my family would be treated so much more generously,” he said.

So what’s wrong with that?

Plenty, according to the Labour Party, but they ooze political correctness on that side of the House and, anyway, they have nothing much better to do than try to torment we Nats.

Trouble is, in response to their needling at question time in Parliament yesterday, Smith said his choice of words had been “unfortunate”.

“I’m happy to apologise if offence has been taken. I openly acknowledge that suicide is a very sensitive area.”

But many families suffered through loss of a partner or family breadwinner due to heart disease, cancer or brain tumours who were equally disadvantaged, Dr Smith said.

Smith’s apology was hardly necessary. What he said about the incentive to bump yourself off to help the family with ACC payouts is bang on.

Alf thinks the poor bugger needs a long holiday and is happy to step up to show what should be done as a Minister. He would prefer the Racing portfolio, and anything to do with liquor, but hey – the ACC sounds like a nice challenge.

One Response to Time for a Cabinet shake-up

  1. Red Rosa says:

    Always competition for the racing portfolio, Alf. Best of luck anyway.

    But the government will probably leave Suicide Smith in charge of ACC. The idea is to make it look bad, so it can be easily privatised.

    Nothing will help the process more than having a wally in apparent control. The average voter must be thinking – ‘hell, even I could do better than that!’

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