A while back I asked why the NBR doesn’t run it’s ‘Crony Watch’ column anymore. When Labour was in government they were very quick to critiscise when anyone who had any connection to the Labour Party was appointed to any sort of board or committee. Strangely they haven’t been as vocal and vigilant since National came to power, but there are certainly plenty of examples they could be highlighting. For example:
- John Key’s electorate chairman, Stephen McElrea, has been given a role on a working group selecting proposals for taxpayer-funded political documentaries about health, education, welfare and law and order. He is also the deputy chair of NZ on Air, who get to choose which Kiwi TV shows get taxpayer subsidies.
- Richard Griffin, former press secretary to the last National government (and often confused for the former PM) has been appointed Chair of the Board of Radio New Zealand.
- Former National MP and Cabinet Minister Roger Sowry appointed to the Board of the Electricity Authority and to Chair the Councils of two polytechnics.
- Former National MP and Leader Don Brash appointed to Chair the government’s 2025 taskforce.
- Unsuccessful National Party candidate, and next on their list, Conway Powell, appointed to the Health Research Council of New Zealand.
- Alastair Scott, who unsuccessfully tried to roll John Hayes as National candidate in the Wairarapa, was rewarded with a seat on the Crown Health Funding Agency.
- National’s candidate in Mt Albert, Ravi Musuku, was rewarded with a slot on the Human Rights Review Tribunal after being rolled in favour of Melissa Lee for the by-election.
- Former National MP Ian McLean appointed to the Lakes District Health Board.
- Another former National MP Margaret Moir appointed to the Podiatrists’ Board.
- Yet another former National MP, Clem Simich, appointed to the Residence Review Board.
- One of the authors of Don Brash’s Orewa speech, Michael Bassett, appointed to the Board of Te Papa.
I don’t think someone should be disqualified from appointment to a role just because they have been, or are, involved with a political party. But those appointments will always be, and should be, subject to greater scrutiny. That scrutiny should be no less just because it is a National government rather than a Labour one.