Great – a gong for the wind, but those lesser awards for policy wonks leave a sour taste

Mrs Grumble is keeping out of Alf’s way today, as she usually does when the new year and birthday honours lists are published.

She knows full well that Alf will be grouchy for a day or two because he has been overlooked yet again for a title.

He will be especially grouchy this time, because one of the big gongs has gone to Helen Clark.

Alf bitterly recalls that knighthoods and damehoods – some of the plums for being part of the glorious British Commonwealth of Nations – were scrapped under her leadership.

Now she has been awarded the country’s highest honour, membership of the Order of New Zealand, in the New Year Honours announced this morning.

The former prime minister becomes the 17th member of an order that can have no more than 20 living New Zealanders as members at any time.

Yesterday, taking a break from her schedule as administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, she looked every bit a former Labour Party leader, dressed in a red jacket at the Waihi Beach home of her parents, Margaret and George.

She said the award came as a surprise. “I really didn’t expect it. But the reality is that, generally, people from previous administrations have been recognised, so I guess the same traditions apply. Perhaps it was the timing of it.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We Nats have spent the past decade trying to tip her and her gaggle of leftie social engineers out of office, complaining all the while about how they are botching things and making New Zealand a place that is encouraging emigration.

Now we reward her.

And get this…

The honour’s citation simply says, “For services to New Zealand”.

For what?

That’s a bit like Alf having to pay his builder “for services rendered,” even though the clumsy bugger punctured a water pipe and the plumber had to be hired to put things right.

Then there are those lesser gongs that have been doled out to buggers who – so far as Alf can see – have done nothing much more than their jobs as public servants.

There’s nothing personal in the examples Alf cites here. It’s just that they are blokes who have been quietly getting on their work as bureaucrats.

Example number one: Timothy Charles Robert Horner, Otaki, for services to the New Zealand Customs Service.

Horner – Alf understands – is or was the Customs Service Group Manager Policy. A policy wonk, in other words.

He has managed Customs’ policy work since his appointment in 1998, leading a gang of wonks who provide advice to the Government and the Minister of Customs on border management issues, including international trade and international relations.

In effect, he has been rewarded for a decade of wonking.

And before that?

He joined Customs from the Department of Internal Affairs where he served for 20 years, initially as a manager in the Local Government division, and later as the Department’s Policy Manager for Gaming, Citizenship and Heritage issues.

Betcha his pants have a real shiny patch around the bum.

Then there’s an award to one Alan Bryan Kerr, of Wellington, for services to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

He’s another policy wonk.

Alf recalls a written question being put to Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton in 2007, back in the days when our capital city was Helengrad.

The question was put by our David Carter – a bloke who is worthy of an honour – who wanted to know who were the members of the Primary Industries Summit Steering Group.

The list of names supplied in reply included that of Alan Kerr (Director, International Policy, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry)…

On the other hand, Alf applauds the knighthood awarded to Arthur Douglas Myers, CBE, of London, for services to business and the community.

Myers was a beer baron, the boss of Lion Nathan.

His firm makes Steinlager, which makes Alf merry, if consumed in sufficient quantities. It also makes him burp.

Hence Myers can be said to have been honoured for his contribution to Alf’s belching – a gong for the wind.

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