Paula’s mentor brings political trouble

May 19, 2009

Some political mentors are ideal for public appointments. Some – as Paula Bennett is finding out the hard way – are not.

Alf confidently puts Jim McLay in the former category.

Prime Minister John Key’s political mentor has been handed the key international role of New Zealand’s representative to the United Nations.

Jim McLay, former National Party leader and deputy prime minister, was yesterday appointed New Zealand’s next Permanent Representative to the United Nations based at its New York headquarters.

True, Labour squawked about it being a political appointment but The Boss said McLay had a “remarkable skill set” that had been put to use for previous governments no matter what party was in office.

Mr Key has credited Mr McLay as a mentor, seeking him out for advice before entering Parliament in 2002 and continuing to tap into his political knowledge since.

If the media found anything untoward in McLay’s bedroom, and especially in his bed, after the appointment was announced, it has kept remarkably quiet about it.

Not so in the case of Christine Rankin, whose dress sense alone and appalling earrings should have given the cabinet grounds for vetoing her appointment to the Family Commission.

And in recent days – sure enough – the shit has hit the fan as stuff has emerged about her private life.

Alf can tell you The Boss is not too bloody happy with Paula Bennett, who kept quiet about some of the stuff that is grist for the gossip mill.

As The Herald reports today:

It is understood the Government has been shocked by the fallout over her appointment which, instead of dying down, intensified after murky details of her private life became public at the weekend.

The Cabinet’s delay yesterday in finalising the appointment of the Transition Agency to oversee the Auckland Super City is understood to be a consequence of the debacle.

The Government has decided to take more time over its appointments where there may be potential fish-hooks.

More critically for the Minister of Social Development, Paula’s role in strongly promoting Rankin is coming under scrutiny.

Ms Rankin is said to be close to Paula Bennett and has become something of a mentor to her, both during the campaign for her successful election as MP for Waitakere last year and in helping her to adjust as minister for the department Ms Rankin once ran.

Both overcame the struggles of sole parenthood to land high-ranking posts.

Paula Bennett is said to have strongly supported Ms Rankin’s appointment against the opposition of some colleagues thought to have included Justice Minister Simon Power.

Rankin may be ideal for mentoring Paula to operate politically (and successfully) in a Westie environment.

But what’s acceptable stuff to promote and defend among Westies doesn’t necessarily go down well elsewhere, especially not here in Eketahuna (although we will watch with fascination when it’s wrapped up in the format of a soap opera).

Cullenary thrombosis: a clot in the SOE kitchen

April 8, 2009
Eketahuna's public dunnies - would you let them be managed by Michael Cullen?

Eketahuna's public dunnies - would you let them be managed by Michael Cullen?

Add Alf Grumble’s name to the growing list of bloggers expressing dismay at the appointment of Michael Cullen to the board of NZ Post.

As soon as the news had been broken by the Trans Tasman newsletter – tipping Cullen to chair NZ Post and KiwiBank when Jim Bolger retires – Ele at Homepaddock was clearly upset.

A loyal National Party member has just phoned to tell me he and others who spent nine years working to get Cullen’s hands off the reins are furious about this and I share their views.

There must be someone better equipped for these roles than the man who overtaxed and over spent for nine long years, leaving our economy far less able to weather the recession than it would have been had his policies been directed at growth rather than redistribution.

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