Entitlement: the first slurp from a public trough should be a family member’s privilege

nepotism03

The bloody impertinence of it!

According to a report in the Herald on Sunday, the living standards of the Grumble family could be seriously eroded by plans to make it harder for politicians to hire relatives in taxpayer-funded jobs.

Dammit, we aren’t talking about incest here.

It’s nepotism. And nepotism happens to simply mean giving family members pride of place in the old boys’ network.

But it looks like some tossers want to limit the exercise of this form of favouritism, which takes blood lines into account.

After the General Election, Parliamentary Services will require job applicants to register on an electronic recruitment system that will favour candidates with experience.

The majority of the 730 staff have to reapply for jobs at the end of each three-year parliamentary term.

Under new guidelines issued by the Speaker, Parliamentary Services can block an MP from hiring staff if they are “clearly lacking the skills to meet the requirements of the role”.

The Herald on Sunday goes on to say MPs are not allowed to employ their spouse or partner, in or outside Parliament, or any dependents.

king_prince_nepotism

But many MPs filled their offices with immediate family members.

NZ First MP Asenati Lole-Taylor employs two of her daughters, Fleur and Amy, in her Papatoetoe office.

Lole-Taylor appeared unaware of the rules around hiring family members as staff. “Is that a rule that they’re not allowed to be employed?”

Lole-Taylor said the daughters did not live with her and were not dependents.

“You’re more than welcome to go around to their house,” she said.

In this case Alf is bound to question whether they should be deemed unsuitable, because she said her daughters were over-qualified for constituency work: both have law degrees and (as she says) it is hard to find trustworthy staff.

Lole-Taylor is not alone.

Retiring Maori Party leader Tariana Turia employed her son Alan and a granddaughter in her Te Tai Hauauru electorate office in Whanganui.

She also hired a niece as a private secretary. When contacted by the Herald on Sunday, Turia’s press secretary Makere Edwards referred questions to Parliamentary Services.

Good move. It we MPs have to deal with nosy reporters on hiring family members, who knows where the idea of accountability will take things.

Then we are reminded:

In May, the wife of outgoing National MP Claudette Hauiti was sacked because she had been hired in breach of the guidelines.

But:

NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke was cleared of any wrongdoing for hiring his live-in friend Stephen James as a staffer by Speaker David Carter.

It looks like we Nats are on the fluffy end of some discriminatory attitudes here.

The Herald on Sunday makes some sensible observations in an editorial:

The rule laid down by the Speaker should not prevent family members being employed so long as they have the skills.

All other things being equal, an MP may have good reason to prefer a relative.

Politics is a public business and staff need to be especially loyal and alert to the publicity that can be attracted when a problem is badly handled.

The editorial then strikes a huffy tone:

But MPs are also role models in their community. If nepotism is evident in their staff appointments the practice may spread to local organisations of all sorts.

Nepotism is not good policy. It is unfair to those better qualified, it can bring family issues into the office and can be a job creation scheme for next of kin. Parliament needs to stop it.

It doesn’t need to stop it at all, strictly speaking.

And by stopping it, our indigenous persons will be seriously disadvantaged, because they are very much inclined to look after their whanau by putting them on the public payroll.

Alf agrees. Family first, folks.

Ability before blood lines is bollocks when it comes to getting a snout into a trough.

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