Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search 18 November 2005 18 November 2005

A Weekly Report from the Keyboard of Murray McCully MP for East Coast Bays

Huge Win for Hobbs

New Zealanders can take their hats off to Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs for his decisive role in winning the Rugby World Cup event for this country. Many other individuals at the Union, on the bid committee and across the various arms of the government have played their part, but the way the worldwide headquarters reads it, Hobbs personally made the difference.

The New Zealand bid was universally written off by the commentators, analysts and even the betting agencies. But the rugby world is a complex business where the decisions are made without slavish adherence to the officials’ reports. Personal relationships and rivalries extending back many decades, often back to on-field contests as players, colour the decision-making process.

That is where Hobbs has been critical. It’s not just that Hobbs was an outstanding player and captain, well liked and respected by his counterparts around the rugby world.

Hobbs was also the man, just at the point when top level players were on the point of abandoning the IRB for the blandishments of the international media barons, who was brought in by the New Zealand Union to persuade the All Blacks, one by one, to sign up. With all of the momentum till that point going for the media barons and against the IRB, his intervention was crucial.

There would be few people in world rugby with as many IOUs around the IRB table as Jock Hobbs. The fact that he has quietly called them in over recent weeks was probably the winning of the hosting rights to the 2011 Cup.

They Were Warned

Needing to respond to recent communications from our excitable State Services Commissioner, the humble Member for East Coast Bays was this week fossicking around his old files. Dr Prebble had expressed concern at the critical reviews being accorded his employee, the Secretary of Labour, our old friend Dr Bewildered.

But the old files (around the Lie in Unison scandal) show clearly that then State Services Commissioner Michael Wintringham was well and truly warned that allowing Dr Bewildered to continue with plans for an internal whitewash would be tantamount to painting a bullseye on his forehead. Part of the third and final plea from said Member to the SSC to intervene is worth repeating:

“I must tell you that I shall have no confidence in any in-house investigation conducted by the Secretary of Labour and will act accordingly as matters progress. If the Secretary is to be the political tool of the Minister and the Government in relation to the scandalous misconduct which has been exposed then he must take the consequences. But I want you and he to be very clear, given the seriousness of these matters, that this is a choice which I deeply regret.”

Well, they were warned.

More Leadership from the SSC

The State Services Commissioner, Mark Prebble, who seems to have his nose in a knot over a certain influential Friday publication, should spend a little less time writing silly letters to Members of Parliament, and a little more time getting his organisation to function properly.

A quick check of the SSC website is truly revealing. The Commission, we are told “ensures that the State Services is well placed to carry out Government policy and meet the needs of New Zealanders. Our specialist role is as a leader on issues of State Services development.”

The SSC also advises “on State Services management issues and define and promote good practice in a number of areas including…….integrity and conduct.”

So, always keen to latch on to a bit of moral leadership, the worldwide headquarters analysts this week hit the “Integrity and Conduct”button.

And guess what: “The requested page does not exist.” How very very revealing.

Another Taxpayer-Funded PC Brigade

Taxpayers curious to ascertain why it is that our government is unable to afford tax cuts will be interested to hear of the excellent tasks in which their tax dollars are currently employed. Like the work of an outfit called the Office for Disability Issues, which this week commenced a nationwide search for disabled persons to nominate for the boards of SOEs.

“The Office of Disability Issues has been asked to put forward nominees for vacancies on several State owned Enterprise boards,” said the email. “We are committed to promoting the leadership of disabled people in governance positions, and would like suitably qualified disabled people to put themselves forward.”

Here’s one for you, Dr Mapp.

Winston’s Very Own Ministerial Pooper Scooper

This week’s explanation by Phil Goff that deciding whether to have Winston Peters inside the Cabinet was a bit like choosing whether you wanted your mother-in-law to live in your house, or next door, was truly revealing. And his revelation that the Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, had sought an explanation of Mr Peters’ role was even more so. Mr Goff also chose to provide Mr Peters with several more choice morsels of public advice as to how he might hone his diplomatic skills.

Quite what actually happened behind closed doors, it is impossible to know. But one thing has become very clear. Mr Goff has obviously been appointed as Mr Peters very own personal Ministerial pooper scooper. And this week, there was just a bit more mess to clean up that he was prepared for. All of which is a little worrying given that this was only week one of what is supposed to be a three year relationship.


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