Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Ministerial misbehaviour: Helen's View

In the House today, Helen was asked about her standards for ministerial behaviour in question eleven. She responded:
Rt Hon HELEN CLARK: Had the same standards been applied to Denis Marshall, Murray McCully, John Banks, Tau Henare, and numerous others, the tally would have been even bigger under previous Governments.
Since I've just looked at this topic, her examples bear closer examination. Denis Marshal did resign his portfolio of Conservation Minister some months after the cave creek tragedy, having spent the intervening weeks correcting his department's culture.

Murray McCully's wrongdoing was to be privy to secret Golden Handshake deals for Tourism Board executives. Given that the present government is in a similar position with respect to the erstwhile chief executive of the Families Commission among others, it's doubtful whether she would have sacked anybody then.

Banksie's misdeed was using a cellphone on an airplane while in flight. Helen, on the other hand, isn't resigning for being an assesory in a speeding scandal for which several police officers are facing charges for. Hence it's doubtful that Helen would have required Banksie's ministerial resignation.

Tau Henare didn't do anything wrong as far as I can remember. Helen has apparently confused him with either Tuariki John Delamere, who was dismissed, or Tuku Morgan, who wasn't a minister.

So Helen's examples do not persuade me that her standards of ministerial behaviour are far higher than that of Jim Bolger or Jenny Shipley. Moreover if she had included competence as one of the criteria by which she judged her ministers, she would lose even more ministers.