It’s a sorry thing when our SIS Minister is heard apologising for saying something while not yet awake

November 28, 2014
"Take you cue from me, Chris, and never say sorry."

“Take your cue from me, Chris, and never say sorry.”

Alf’s caucus mates prefer he stick his borax only into Opposition politicians and spare his party colleagues.

But it’s hard to resist taking a tilt at the Minister in charge of the Security Intelligence Service,  Chris Finlayson, who has been apologising for dismissing Parliament’s select committee process as “chit chat”.

Alf took a dim view of this remark because he is often advising his constituents, when they are bitching about this, that or whatever legislation, that they should shut up if they did not take the opportunity to influence things by making submissions to the  select committee which considered the law when it was at the bill stage.

Finlayson, who also happens to be our Attorney-General, has acknowledged that as soon as he said the process was just chit-chat,  he knew his remark was “uncharacteristically flippant”.

“It’s certainly not chit chat and I apologise,” he says.

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A diplomatic response to Terence O’Brien would be to tell him Murray has the whip hand

November 27, 2014
If we did win the next election, which one of us would be Minister of Foreign Affairs?

If we did win the next election, which one of us would be Minister of Foreign Affairs?

Alf has politely (as always) declined a nice offer made by his mate Murray McCully.

The offer was that he should step into the shoes of John Allen, who has quit as boss of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to take up a position with the New Zealand Racing Board.

Well, perhaps it wasn’t a firm offer, to be honest. He was testing the waters, so to speak, and trying to ascertain Alf’s interest.

But Alf has no urge to stop representing the interests of the good people of Eketahuna North and will be sticking to his job here on the National back benches , where there is always the prospect of a long-overdue promotion to a ministerial job.

Mind you, the report this week that gave Crusher Collins a clean bill of health means she may well be higher up in the queue than he is.

More important, however, Murray’s chat with Alf somewhat scuttles the hopes of Terence O’Brien, the former New Zealand ambassador to the UN and a senior fellow at the Victoria University Centre for Strategic Studies.

Radio NZ reported him as saying Murray must accept that only a top-ranking experienced diplomat can head New Zealand’s new role at the UN Security Council.

Mr Allen’s controversial appointment in 2009 as the first non-diplomatic post to take up the top job was designed to promote New Zealand interests to the world and reinvigorate a diplomatic service marred by complacency.

Mr O’Brien said it had been five years of revolutionary change within MFAT but it was time for a chief executive with considerable diplomatic experience

“It would be timely to revert now to appointing a seasoned professional, particularly in the next two years.

“The burden of the Security Council membership is going to require leadership from the top.”

Beyond that, Radio NZ essentially provided O’Brien with a platform from which to be bitchy.

O’Brien said Allen has fulfilled Murray’s  plan to corporatise the diplomatic service, changing the job of diplomat, which has created silos and forced the departure of experienced diplomats.

But he said this approach was rejected in several countries and it should not have been attempted in New Zealand, though it could not yet be called a complete failure.

“They detracted from MFAT’s performance particularly over the question of career opportunities; a system that he introduced has made career opportunities at the top a somewhat uncertain business.”

Radio NZ also gave David Shearer the chance to remind us of his existence somewhere around No 14 or 15 in the Labour batting order.

Labour’s foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer said many experienced highly-skilled diplomats left the service in mid-career, because their job security was stripped away.

“Much of that was ordered by Murray McCully. It was carried out by John Allen. John Allen was left hanging out to dry by Murray McCully, who put the blame on him, unfairly in many cases, I believe.”
Mr Allen has had to apologise to Mr McCully for the badly-handled Malaysian diplomat case earlier this year, something Mr Shearer said highlighted significant failings.
“John Allen was completely oblivious to what was actually going on in his own ministry. McCully didn’t even ask about the situation.
“We’ll see more of those sorts of issues but more importantly we we’ll see a decline in quality, so it won’t be completely measurable but it won’t stand New Zealand in good stead.”

But Murray was having none of that pap and said MFAT was now in a strong position to capitalise on the opportunities presented by New Zealand’s term on the UN Security Council, and to meet other challenges.

“Under Mr Allen’s guidance, the Ministry has realigned New Zealand’s aid programme to ensure we are making a tangible difference in our region, continue to push for free and open trade, and managed our campaign for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.”

So why should Allen want to bugger off from the MFAT job?

Besides getting away from a job in which he is constantly exposed to carping from Opposition politicians, Allen will get a pay rise.

He gave up a million-dollar salary at New Zealand Post when he took up the MFAT job, slicing his income in half.

The top pay band at the Racing Board – according to the Radio NZ report – is currently $960,000-$970,000.

Oh, and another thing.

The racing industry deals with galloping thoroughbreds. They won’t express any disgruntlement in the same way as Labour’s braying donkeys.

 

 

 


Willie claims more support than his rival but he goes to court – not the polls – to prove it

November 25, 2014
I'm more popular  than that Kake feller, and I'll sue if you disagree.

I’m more popular than that Kake feller, and I’ll sue if you disagree.

Far from Auckland, hunkered down in the Eketahuna Club, Alf’s mates couldn’t give a toss about whether broadcaster Willie Jackson should be sitting on Auckland’s  Independent Maori Statutory Board.

They do give a toss about process.

They observe that Willie took a legal route on his rocky passage towards a seat on the board, which provides advice to Auckland Council on Maori issues.

The High Court has ruled in his favour and found the board’s selection processes were flawed.

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Mayor Judd favours doing things by halves – and he wants all of NZ to accept his power-sharing model

November 24, 2014
And then I have this idea of reserving all council seats for the tangata whenua...

And then I have this idea of putting all council seats aside for the tangata whenua…

About two months ago, the Mayor of New Plymouth was getting kudos from the Maori Party – and no doubt from lots of other Maori leaders – for acknowledging that our indigenous persons are special and should be given special treatment.

His council had just voted for a Maori ward by seven votes to six.

But he was getting plenty of stick, too, from folks who had the temerity to be miffed at the Mayor’s tinkering with their democratic structure (and doing it on the strength of a very close vote)..

One councillor – a true democrat – had the balls to oppose the move and resigned in protest.

The mayor, Andrew Judd, showed troubling signs of being confused about what he was up to.

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And Lisa-Marie makes three – the home-bound count is rising as the CERA saga rolls on

November 23, 2014
A hugged tree is not so likely to complain about sexual harassment.

A hugged tree shouldn’t be so likely to complain about sexual harassment.

All that remains is for Iain Rennie to join the principals of the CERA sweetie saga so we have a quartet of state servants being paid without having to turn up at the office.

Alf makes this observation on learning that someone by name of Lisa-Marie Rachan, described as one of the public sector’s top communications managers, has been placed on sick leave.

Her health has faltered at much the same time as questions are being asked about the the handling of the press conference to announce Roger Sutton’s resignation as the boss of the Canterbury earthquake recovery outfit.

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No, you don’t have to be a lush to win this prize – you must bat for the bunnies (and other creatures)

November 21, 2014

animal-testing-outlawed

Dammit, for a moment or two today Alf felt he had been harshly treated.

A bunch of Kiwis had been awarded something called the LUSH Prize.

Alf imagined that if a LUSH prize was up for grabs, someone somewhere surely had nominated him.

The idea he had missed out was enough to drive him – well, to drink, actually.

But Mrs Grumble soon put him right.

This, she assured him, was a LUSH Prize that no hard-working anti-PC redneck would want to win.

This was assuring.

And indeed, it was a prize Alf would not want to display in his trophy cabinet.

The award was the 2014 LUSH Prize for lobbying against animal testing.

It was made to an outfit called the the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society.

The buggers are obviously proud of it, because they issued a media statement to brag that they had won it for having animal testing of legal highs banned.

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The Flavell formula for prospering in international markets – less song and dance and more hard sell

November 20, 2014
Mind you, we can't get too much cargo into the holds of these vessel.

Mind you, we can’t get too much cargo into the holds of the Maori fleet.

Dunno quite what to make of something Te Ururoa Flavell has been bleating about.

According to a newspaper report Alf read today, he was banging on about some outfit called Maori Inc.

Moreover, he was offering the leaders of this organisation some commercial advice.

But what is the extent of his commercial experience?

That would depend on what he did before becoming an MP, one imagines.

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