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.

 

 

 


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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What do taxpayers give a special person? Why, a $2000 (and more) flax cloak, of course

October 29, 2012

Alf enjoys a good piss-up when taxpayers pick up the tab, but only so long as he is invited.

Sadly, he wasn’t invited to the function to farewell two members of the Maori Language Commission board and celebrate 25 years of the Maori Language Act.

Accordingly (a) he is miffed and (b) he is apt to raise questions about the $12,110 (at least) spent on the function.

Mind you, his dander was raised only momentarily because he forgot the money spent on the occasion included farewell gifts (of more than $2000 each, according to the report here) for Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and Ruakere Hond.

And those people, it should be noted, are special people by virtue of their being indigenous.

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The key to Key’s new targets will be in the presentation – so let’s give gunge a go

June 26, 2012

But it shouldn’t be so much fun for chief executives who fail.

Alf’s idea for cutting the numbers of long-term beneficiaries obviously has not been picked up.

The Government will be doing it the hard way, instead, trimming the numbers bit by bit over a long period.

Its decision is reported in the Herald here today –

The Government wants 23,000 fewer long-term beneficiaries on its books by 2017 and the head of Work and Income could lose a bonus if the target is not achieved.

The welfare target is among 10 specific targets the Government has set for the public sector to achieve over five years in policy relating to welfare, vulnerable children, crime, skills and employment, and digital advances.

These targets look suspiciously like a wish list to the hard-working member for Eketahuna North.

But nah…The Boss has to be believed on these matters, and he says they are not a wish-list – “they are a to-do list”.

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A blood-letting among our busy-body bureaucrats is bound to be beneficial

June 11, 2012

The mandarins are running amok.

One bunch of tossers – literally, in this case – can be found at Housing New Zealand.

The effect of their refusal to budge on one of their oh-too-precious points of principle is to toss out a tenant’s much-loved dog.

Stuff (following up an earlier report which stuck in Alf’s craw) today says the tenant has been forced to find a new home for her dog because it was living at the property without permission.

She pleads she wants her dog back and is scared she will be robbed without it to protect her.

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Michael Bay might be the bloke we need to transform our public service (and make it bleed)

March 3, 2012

Stripping our public service to bare essentials is not so easy.


The public service has been doing a lot of yelping for an outfit that has shed bugger-all blood.

One of the top manadarins has revealed that the squeeze on state service backroom functions has saved just $20 million in two years.

Or $10 million a year.

Let’s stack that alongside soccer celebrity David Beckham’s earnings of $US40 million last year…

The story about the scant savings made so far in the Government’s assault on public service profligacy is told at Stuff today –

The Government has shed more than 2500 jobs in the past three years and ordered chief executives to shave their IT and human resources bills as part of a drastic overhaul of the public service.

But despite ambitious plans to save $1billion over three years, a `benchmarking’ report to be published next week will show 31 agencies and departments have managed to reduce spending by just $20m.

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Do we really want more of this taxing business of trying to talk to IRD people?

February 14, 2012

Dunno if The Boss has paid his taxes on line recently.

Mrs Grumble gave it a go, a week or so ago.

Her bank statement shows the transaction was successful and the money finished up in the hands of the Government, no doubt to help provide domestic purposes benefits for fecund females with a greater urge to fornicate than find jobs.

She has received two letters from IRD since then.

They remind her that her payment is now overdue.

Phoning the IRD to try to sort things out resulted in her being advised about the advantages of enrolling in voice ID .

Then she had to answer questions put to her by a recorded voice.

It’s a tiresome and vexing procedure.

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How much will it cost to collect seven cents? It doesn’t matter if your job is collecting fines

January 16, 2012

Alf is acutely aware of the need for fiscal austerity, to help Bill English bring the books back into the black over the next few years.

Otherwise he would ask the bureaucrats at our Ministry of Justice to put whatever time and effort is needed into explaining who was involved in recovering a certain sum of outstanding money and how much time they spent on the quest.

Obviously it costs money to chase someone for money.

You would think, therefore, that someone would weigh up the cost of the chasing against the revenue to be collected.

If the costs of the chasing are sure to exceed the revenue that will be gathered, well…

Let’s just flag it away.

But the bureaucratic mindset doesn’t tick quite like that.

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By George, that’s a cracker idea for trimming the state sector wage bill

December 9, 2011

George (left) has a Christmas surprise for British public servants.

Alf is making a pitch for the state services portfolio with an idea passed on to him by a Pommy mate, George Osborne.

He hopes to stake his claim to the job and the ministerial baubles that go with it during a chat with The Boss today.

He knows – of course – that a few weeks ago John Key was outlining his post-election priorities to the Dom-Post.

Key mentioned how the Government plans to immediately implement the new lower public service staffing cap.

The cap was signalled in the Budget when Finance Minister Bill English announced the public sector would need to cut almost $1b.

That’s where Alf reckons he has a great idea (or rather, that’s where Alf thinks he can impress The Boss by promoting George Osborne’s idea).

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If you thought there was something sick about the public service, it turns out you probably were right

August 21, 2011

It looks like our public servants are a bunch of skivers, unless – of course – you are a leftie tosser and maintain they are stressed and overworked.

Take your pick.

Whether or not they are as healthy as workers in the private sector may well be arguable, but they are much more likely to take time off when they are (or they profess to be) sick.

The SST tells us the difference in a report today –

Public servants averaged 7.7 sick days each last year, compared with 5.3 days for workers in the private sector.

These figures apparently come from The National Employers’ wage and salary survey, based on interviews of more than 39,000 employees.

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