Alf is deeply offended by all this stuff being bandied around about “croneyism”. The word trips too easily off the sharp tongues of our political enemies.
First it came from Labour’s Maryan Street. Then it came from that chronic Greenie grouch, Keith Locke.
In both cases they are trying to embarrass Murray McCully, for most parts a splendid fellow, although Alf was somewhat disappointed by his failure to scuttle the misspending of $2 million on a plastic waka.
Their accusations have been triggered by McCully’s admirable inclination to look after his mates and appoint people who will feel they owe him a favour, rather than people with public service histories, loyalties and agendas to promote.
First, he appointed Mark Blumsky – a very good shoe salesman – to a diplomatic post in Niue.
And then he made some interesting appointments to an outfit he has set up to dish out foreign aid money.
Street was seriously offensive with her criticisms of the Blumsky appointment.
New Zealand’s reputation is at risk after its approach to foreign affairs appointments and resourcing, according to Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maryan Street.
Ms Street says the appointment of Mark Blumsky as High Commissioner to Niue is case in point.
She says Mr Blumsky is a former colleague and friend of Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
Of course he is. Would you want to be giving jobs to Labour people and/or to your foes?
Ms Street sees this as “cronyism at its worst and something bordering on corruption”.
But Alf is buggered if he can see the corruption or anything like it.
Does Street seriously think she has done Blumsky a favour by landing him with a job in Niue?
Alf is actually inclined to suspect Blumsky has pissed off McCully in some way. Maybe he sold him ill-fitting shoes, and this is his punishment.
Next thing we know, there’s a howl of croneyism over McCully’s appointments to a new aid funding panel.
Alf heard about the howl from Radio NZ –
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is rejecting claims of cronyism over appointments to a new aid funding panel.
Mr McCully has appointed sitting National MP John Hayes and Peter Kiely, a lawyer who has represented the National Party, to a three-person panel to decide grants from the Sustainable Development Fund.
It’s not the most enticing job in the world. The fund gives out about $30 million a year, which is peanuts in Alf’s book and not worth getting out of bed for, although John Hayes will have to get out out bed because he will have to meet with the two other panel members.
So it’s all a bit of a pain in the arse, really.
The Labour Party is grumbling about McCully politicising the aid sector with people close to the Government, but –
Mr McCully told Parliament Mr Hayes is a former Pacific diplomat who has been in charge of the overall aid programme and who now chairs the Foreign Affairs select committee.
Mr McCully says he can’t think of anyone who would be more suitable for the new panel.
Locke clambered on the croneyism bandwagon to demand that McCully rethink the panel’s composition.
“Putting National MP John Hayes on the panel is not appropriate given his parliamentary role is to scrutinise NZAid,” said Mr Locke.
“Mr Hayes is chair of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, which overlooks the performance of NZAid.
“How can Mr Hayes, as committee chair, impartially assess New Zealand’s aid projects, when he has previously been directly involved in approving many of them?
Easily. Having made the decisions for approving aid, Hayes will be in a better position than anyone on the foreign affairs committee to see what bloody good decisions they were.
It saves a lot of time and – therefore – public money.
Mr Locke who sits on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee was also concerned that all three panel members, while having some credentials in the aid sector, also have outside associations with Mr McCully.
“Mr Hayes is of course a National MP,” said Mr Locke. “Mr Kiely is a lawyer that works for the National Party and Ms Walsh is a manager for Rugby World Cup 2011, who reports to Mr McCully who is the Rugby World Cup Minister.
Alf is keen on taking advantage of McCully’s approach to making appointments and will be greasing up to him more than usual henceforth. He hankers for a nice little ambassadorship in a country with a warm climate and a high regard for drinking whisky (which means he won’t get lumbered with Saudi Arabia).
But he won’t be be mentioning this to the good people of Eketahuna North, lest they get the idea he is just another time-serving MP like too many of the other rascals.