Red Alert

What happened to crony watch?

Posted by on April 8th, 2011

When Labour was in government the NBR used to have a regular column called ‘Crony Watch’ where they would chronicle any government appointments that had any sort of political connection. Strangely, since National came go power it seems to have disappeared.

I’m wondering whether this is because they don’t feel that the National Party appointing their own activists and funders to taxpayer funded Roles is cronyism, or is it just that there are now so many of them they don’t have room?

I’m not opposed to political appointments based on merit, you shouldn’t be disqualified from public service just because you happen to have history with one party or another. I supported Labour’s decision to appoint Jim Bolger to head NZ Post and I support National’s decision to replace him with Michael Cullen.

But National’s appointments should get the same level of scrutiny as Labour’s appointments. Are we getting value for money from Don Brash’s task force given the govt reject his recommendations before they even read them? (mind you, Key doesn’t seem to be a particularly big reader of important documents).

Will ACT Party candidate Graham Scott add value to the Productivity Commission. Is Jenny Shipley the best person go head one of our largest energy companies? Should Steven Joyce have given massive taxpayer loans to a company he used to own that operates in direct competition with a government owned enterprise?

Is it a good thing that Murray McCully has decided to abandon past practice and hand-pick appointees for overseas diplomatic roles? Will that lead to cronyism? Given McCully has just appointed a sitting National MP to what should be an independent role, it’s fair to ask.

These are all legitimate questions that the media would have been asking Labour in the same circumstances. It’s a shame different standards seem to apply when the Tories are in charge.


14 Responses to “What happened to crony watch?”

  1. tracey says:

    Could do worse than peek at the SPARC appointments since Nov 2008

    One who headed the demise of a major NZ company and another fighting a Court battle

  2. SHG says:

    I’m confused. Are you asking if Scott and Shipley’s appointments, and McCully’s appointees, are worthy? Or are you asking if the process by which they were appointed is fair? Or are you complaining that NZ’s news media don’t seem as tough on National as you think they were on Labour?

  3. ghostwhowalksnz says:

    I suppose they didnt actually ‘write’ the column themselves, it was probably a email from Nationals research unit. Cest la vie!

    BTW what ever happened to ‘bauble watch’, with $43 million of baubles going to TV3 owners the baubles are flowing more freely than ever

  4. Psycho Milt says:

    I’m wondering whether this is because they don’t feel that the National Party appointing their own activists and funders to taxpayer funded Roles is cronyism, or is it just that there are now so many of them they don’t have room?

    You left out number 3: “or are they just political partisans supporting their preferred govt?”

  5. Decanker says:

    Good post Chris. So when does it become a plutocracy?
    Probably when MMP gets voted out for a less democratic alternative. Which was a fear that for some reason washed over me last night. I’m concerned that the hurting voters in NZ are going to take it out on the electoral system come election time. The merits of MMP have to be made clear, even for Labour voters who may not otherwise be concerned by a change. Johansson’s recent column was very good, but the message needs to be much clearer.

    Not quite what you posted about but a change in the electoral system would make the cronyism much worse.

  6. Sean says:

    I’m wondering whether this is because they don’t feel that the National Party appointing their own activists and funders to taxpayer funded Roles is cronyism, or is it just that there are now so many of them they don’t have room?

    Or C) All of the above.

  7. old sammy says:

    What happened to Crony Watch? Their guys got in. Simple as that.

    The media need to be fed. There is HEAPS of this stuff. All it needs is somebody media-savvy to collate and communicate the info.

    And, of course, a willingness – no, a total determination to out-work and out-smart your opponents. Labour have a team paid to do all this, but are losing the media war to an obsessive (but effective) sickness beneficiary in Auckland.

    For example, I find/hear “Crony Watch” stories all the time, and … what am I meant to do with them? Red Alert doesn’t even have an e-mail address. I’m not interested in telling Labour MPs that they’re doing a great job. I’m interested in helping you do a much better one. But are you interested?

    Historians will look back at this time and wonder how on earth the government got away with so much. It’s very depressing.

  8. Draco T Bastard says:

    Or are you complaining that NZ’s news media don’t seem as tough on National as you think they were on Labour?

    The whole post was about an entire column that used to look at all the political appointments that were made being removed so there’s no “think” about it. National are definitely not being held to account to the same level by the MSM that Labour was.

  9. tracey says:

    Decanker – Mr Shirtcliffe wont be going down without a fight, watch for his exercising of his democratic right to make sure the referendum is covered, if only in part

  10. Spud says:

    Agreed, scrutiny is good. :-)

  11. Draco T Bastard says:

    Red Alert doesn’t even have an e-mail address.

    Write them up and submit them as a guest post over at The Standard. If well written, concise and has real world backing they usually get accepted.

  12. Spud says:

    8O Guest post? Mmmmmm :-)

  13. Trevor Mallard says:

    We don’t do guest posts except for soon to be MPs. Part of our thing. But old sammy three or four hundred people a day manage to find my email trevor.mallard@parliament.govt.nz you could use it if you wanted to.

  14. jennifer says:

    @ Trevor, how about a little bit of humility? I guess that would be too much of a stretch, eh, for someone who knows everything? To my mind, you and your colleagues should listen to ‘old sammy’ and get with the programme. The alternative is to relax in opposition and enjoy the well paid ride.