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The Letter

The Letter

The Haps

Ian Fraser goes before he is pushed. Today Cabinet signs off the government program for the opening of Parliament next week.

Falling ratings

The TVNZ board has always been "politically appointed". All public companies have remuneration committees. It just sounds as if the board is starting to do its job.

PC Eradicator

Wayne Mapp was in Canada when he learnt, on the same day as the public did, what his new job was. Don Brash explained Mapp is the right man for the job because he is "married to a Maori person". A jet lagged Mapp returned home to sound as confused as his leader as to exactly what the job entails. Seven other National MPs who have been appointed to the suspiciously PC sounding "liaison" roles, Judith Collins is "liaison with Pacific NZ'ers", Pansy Wong is "liaison with Asian NZ'ers" etc are just as confused as to what their jobs entail. The MPs have gloomily concluded that after Don gives Orewa three their job is to placate the offended.

Men are in, women are out

In her new cabinet Helen Clark wanted men, South Island men and Catholics, preferably practicing. Damien O'Connor the West Coast MP who meets all the criteria, was just as ready for cabinet six years ago. Labour women MPs like Judith Tizard and Steve Chadwick have just learnt that what had been their greatest assets, their gender and impeccable PC credentials, are now not required.

She is tough

Former Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton did not decide to resign voluntarily, he was pushed. His crime? Firstly for having the biggest swing against him and secondly for announcing that he had bought a house in Waikanae and was going to stand for the Wellington Labour list next election. Sutton was valuable while he was a rural voice but the party had no need for yet another MP who wants to live just the distance needed to qualify for the Wellington housing allowance.

Fairbrother to foulbrother

Another who was on Clark's list for cabinet whose political career is over is Russell Fairbrother who lost the Napier seat, which had been held by Geoff Braybrook with massive majorities. Clark had him earmarked for Attorney General. The final straw was Fairbrother's statement to media that in future he would refer constituents to Chris Tremain, National's new MP.

Machine Politics

Mayor Daley who ruled over Chicago for many years used to meet with each Democratic Councillor after an election armed with a detailed breakdown of that Councillor's election return. When Clark met her Labour MPs before the cabinet was announced she had in her hand each MP's election result. While new Transport and Energy Minister David Parker lost Otago, his result was actually much better than Wayne Harpur who lost Invercargill for Labour or Jim Sutton's appalling result.

PC halt

Clark's killing of Georgina Beyer's Private Member's Bill to give legal protection to transsexual persons is another sign that social engineering has ended. Despite the public denial, the PM did make it clear that the party would like her to move on. Beyer who has nothing between her ears and her tongue promptly told all. Clark believes that an MP who works hard should never lose a provincial seat and Beyer's shifting to the list contributed to Labour losing the Wairarapa constituency.

Independent Governor?

As commentators have observed, if increasing interest rates now is correct then holding them steady for months before the election was wrong. With inflation already at 3.4% it is likely to reach 4% - a serious miscalculation. An independent Governor would have made his criticism that government spending policies are inflationary before the election. The State Service Commissioner's announced intention to grant salary increases far in excess of inflation shows the civil service is ignoring Bollard.

Speech from the Throne

Much of the speech is a reiteration of policies that have already been announced. Included are all of the policy concessions made for support on confidence but few details. Labour will reiterate its campaign promises to make student loans interest free and extend the range of family support. Ministers are realising that the lack of a formal coalition agreement covering policy limits what government can do.

Richard Long's replacement

Stephen Joyce soon to be leaving his job as the National Party's general manager where he did a good job, is picked to be Brash's new Chief of Staff at a salary believed to be around $250,000.

Overheard in Bellamy's

New Maori Party MP Hone Harawira was overheard enquiring as to how he could put his dinner guests' restaurant bill on to his parliamentary expenses i.e., we the taxpayers foot the bill - absolutely against the rules. It is so important, don't you think, to start as you intend to continue.

Baubles of Office

Once all Ministers were accommodated in the Beehive. Clark's huge ministry long ago expanded to Bowen House. Winston Peters and Peter Dunne to show independence have remained there, with extensive alterations to come. The Greens have moved to the ACT offices on the 8th floor, Rodney Hide, Heather Roy and the ACT staff are now temporarily on the 1st floor. Rod Donald thinks that the office of the former ACT deputy leader is not nearly big enough and has ordered a wall knocked down to create him an office larger than Jeanette's.

Our Poll

93% of Letter readers voted for John Key to be promoted to No 3. This week "Do you have confidence in the job the Reserve Bank governor is doing in preserving the Bank's independence and fighting inflation?" Go to we will send the result to Michael Cullen.


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