Alf has been hugely comforted by the certainty that a cosy job would be found for him, should he quit parliamentary politics. His ministerial mates would stick him on the board of an SOE, a quango or one of umpteen other types of publicly funded organisation.
Their structures provide for oodles of political appointments, and they enable our ministers to dispense favours and patronage.
Alf is comforted no longer. We are giving these plums – the spoils of victory – to our bloody opponents.
The idea used to be that the jobs were dished out to long-serving, and maybe not-so-long-serving, members of the party in Government.
That was the point of winning an election. You got to run the bloody country – dig up the conservation estate, run down the public service, turn Auckland into a Super City then govern it from Wellington, think about taking travel privileges off the oldies but back off when they squawk loudly, and so on.
Running the bloody country meant you could put your colleagues and mates in the zillions of publicly paid jobs that remained even after you had cut a swathe through the public service.
But you didn’t reward your political foes by giving the jobs to them.
Alf accordingly is astonished and dismayed that former prime minister Jim Bolger will be replaced as chairman of NZ Post late in the year by….
It’s so excruciatingly nauseating that Alf is struggling to spit out the name.
Bolger will be replaced by former finance minister Michael Cullen.
So this is what modern politics have come to.
We spend nine frustrating years in opposition railing against this Cullen bugger, telling the public he is a piss-poor finance minister who is wrecking the country – blah, blah, blah.
Then when the public agrees with us and puts the government in our hands, what do we do?
We reward the bugger.
First, we encourage him to retire with the lure of an SOE board job. At least this means we won’t have to put up with the tart-tongued bugger railing against our economic programme as an experienced opposition MP.
But now we will be making him the board chairman, depriving a true-blood Nat of a nice little earner.
Mrs Grumble is cleaning up the glass today after an outraged Alf threw his almost full whisky bottle at the telly on learning the news from TV3.
There has been speculation that Dr Cullen, who is deputy chairman of NZ Post, would be stepped up to chairman, and 3 News confirmed tonight that would in fact happen when Mr Bolger’s term expires in October.
But it seems Bolger’s humiliation is not complete. It looks like he will lose his KiwiRail job too.
This is a great shame. Alf reckons the railways are a huge waste of public money, and should be scrapped, but not the KiwiRail board, because it allows us to reward our mates with appointments.
Dunno of the Government agrees with that, but –
Prime Minister John Key was asked by reporters today about Mr Bolger’s future with KiwiRail and whether he would be re-appointed, but Mr Key said he couldn’t confirm anything, other than to endorse Mr Bolger’s performance.
“I think he has proved himself to be a very effective chairman of a number of SOEs (state-owned enterprises), whether it has been KiwiRail or New Zealand Post.”
Yeah, Alf was pissed off when Bolger threw in his lot with the Labour layabouts and accepted the SOE appointments they dished out.
But if they want to give the plums to their opponents, let ’em.
We don’t have to reciprocate.
It’s galling to recall all the blather when Cullen confirmed he would resign from Parliament at the end of April last year, after being appointed to the New Zealand Post Board.
His appointment to NZ Post comes after weeks of speculation that the new National government was looking to appoint him to a key State Owned Enterprise.
But the appointment may be controversial among grass roots National supporters; earlier speculation that the Government would find Dr Cullen a new role sparked criticism from within the party.
Too damned right.
The bugger virtually admitted he was not earning his keep as a publicly paid MP.
Labour’s loss and his decision to return to the backbenches had left him with time on his hands and feeling unsatisfied.
But did Key say good riddance?
Mr Key said there was no bad blood between himself and Dr Cullen.
”We wish him the best for his retirement,” Mr Key told reporters.
”We think he’s a man with tremendous skills and we’re now looking forward to him deploying those at NZ Post.”
And what did we hear from Finance Minister Bill English?
he had not agreed with all the decisions Dr Cullen had made when the previous government was in power but he was one of the few people in the Labour Party who understood the economy.
”He is a capable person and he has put his services at the disposal of the Government and we are going to use them,” Mr English said.
The biggest outrage was the risible crap from SOE Minister Simon Power.
He confirmed the appointment within minutes of Dr Cullen’s retirement announcement and unveiled a raft of new SOE board appointments, in line with the Government’s plan to inject fresh blood to drive better performance.
Cullen? Fresh blood?
The “fresh blood” Power was prattling about happened to include former National leader Don Brash’s appointment to the board of Transpower.
No, you can not call that “fresh blood” and keep a straight face.
But Brash was one of our blokes.
And “fresh blood” should not come into considerations.
These are jobs for the boys (oh, yes, and the girls) and we should not be trying to disguise something that does not fool the public.
Stephen Joyce, as Transport Minister, has yet to learn this lesson and is banging on about KiwiRail’s governance needing refreshing.
Bolger’s term expires in June.
If that job goes to one of our political rivals, Alf will be demanding a change of leadership of the National Party. Trouble is, the way the rewards system has been turned upside down, the bloody caucus could go and give the leadership to Phil Goff.