Jim Anderton's flat out reason to retire
The renovation of Wellington's Government House will mean the Labour Party's elderly appendage must vacate the plush Vogel House - where he has resided for almost nine years as a minister - to make way for the Governor-General. This will happen in November. About the same time as the election will probably occur.
Moving house is always a massive effort. It forces you to re-examine priorities and begs the question: how long in this new place? Anderton, although it is his second home (away from his run-down and dreary Christchurch constituency), will be asking himself the same question. If they are out of government come November there will be no more limousines, no more junkets, no more over-blown salary, no more battalions of staff, no more top-table status, no more of people having to obey his sermons - and no more Vogel House or any other ministerial pad for that matter. He'll have to make do standing up and holding his own luggage on the over-loaded third class carriage of the parliamentary gravy train. The poor bastard.
Given the man is 97 years old now, an exit - a graceful and stage-managed exit - from the battleground must be on his mind. I and millions of other Aotearoans can't wait. It cannot come a day too soon. His legacy of destroying the nation's fortified wine industry, criminalisation of things that make people happy, using government money on sweet-heart deals for his dodgy mates and a failed provincial lolly scramble policy will be what the Labour government's most conservative minister will be remembered for.
As for the 27 bedroom faux Tudor monstrosity in which the Governors-General officially reside - the $46.6 million price tag for the do-up is out of all proportion to the relevance of the position and the architectural merits of the characterless Edwardian slab. Does the government's function centre really need an Honorary Live-In Custodian to save it from demolition. If the basis for Category 1 Heritage status is that Her Majesty took a dump there I would not be in the least bit surprised. If it was roped off with gold tassled velvet cords and is treasured as a national shrine and has its own souvenir teaspooon would not be in the least bit surprising either.
The un-elected rubber stamp puppets of the government of the day needn't be housed in anything more than a caravan attached by a couple of tarps to the Beehive. The office of Governor-General is a long-standing inside joke. To play the emperor to the Prime Minister's shogun requires institutional reliability - not constitutional understanding. They'd sign there own death warrants if it were put in front of them. They have ignored every petition of any consequence that has ever been put in front of them. The last G-G discharged her duties of Royal Assent in signing the Maori land confiscation act (Foreshore and Seabed Bill) at her batch in a matter of minutes - probably seconds of receiving it.
I doubt she even put the Pimms and lemonade down, as she swayed in the hamock, to scribble her signature on the cover note to the confiscation act while the courier dutifully held it out, bowing as he did so. Did she not read the faxes that were jamming her machine for the last week? The ones that said "at least read it." Was she too busy? Did they not have "God Save the Queen!" on them or something? And then she tootles off after her stint is up to tut-tut the Khymer Rouge as part of entering the international judicial circle and being New Zealand's outward face of the
Agreeing to be a monkey in a gilded cage for half a decade makes you no less a monkey because the bananas are tax-free.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet run the show in this country. They make their own rules. If this isn't the plot to every airport novel conspiracy/thriller I don't know what is. If we add the fact that the person shoulder-tapped to run this department was part of the Prime Minister's Sisterhood Appointments Scheme but who had to be moved sideways because of her phoney CV whilst being acting Chief Executive, and that the Minister of Justice is also the Minister of Police, that the Attorney-General is a history lecturer in charge of the Treasury who has no legal training and is an outspoken critic of judicial independence, that the two ministers are responsible for appointing all of New Zealand's judges, that the Prime Minister is also the Minister for the ominously sounding SIS and the GCSB, that the independent Serious Fraud Office is to be merged into Police, that Police have initiated their own re-establishment legislation and are trying to get it through parliament, that they now want the right to silence removed from suspects, that they try to use anti-terrorism laws for minor firearms offences - it makes this organ of the state, this brain of the regime, sound so very sinister...
The key role of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) is to support executive government at the heart of New Zealand’s parliamentary democracy. We advise the Prime Minister and the Governor-General, and help provide coordination and leadership across the public service to facilitate the achievement of the government’s policy objectives.
DPMC is charged with providing support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on a diverse range of policy and administrative issues on which it brings to bear judgement, discretion and effectiveness. The robustness of our processes is particularly tested around the time of a general election and therefore we shall be giving priority attention to preparations for the 2008 election, working with the Ministry of Justice, the Chief Electoral Office, Treasury, the State Services Commission (SSC), and the Crown Law Office.
In order to offer appropriate support on such issues – especially when they arise unexpectedly – the department has an ongoing requirement to maintain flexibility in staffing, a high level of skills, and responsiveness to changing circumstances.
The range of domestic and external security risks facing New Zealand remains broad. We shall continue to take the lead in the state sector’s risk management as we coordinate cross-government efforts to identify and mitigate risks to New Zealand’s well-being. These include not only natural events such as earthquakes and floods but also cyber attacks, border-management hazards, and serious threats to social order. DPMC will continue to coordinate the regular exercising of cross-agency capability for dealing with these risks. A key priority will be the strengthening of local and international partnerships to meet future challenges.
we shall continue to work intensively with Treasury and SSC on this, with our focus being on cross-agency leadership of issues and on promotion of collaboration between agencies to achieve the government’s key policy outcomes.
The department has 125 staff in 6 business units: Cabinet Office, which includes the Honours Secretariat; Policy Advisory Group (PAG); External Assessments Bureau (EAB); Corporate Services Unit; Domestic and External Security Group (DESG); and Government House.
has a responsibility for oversight and coordination of the New Zealand intelligence community: it provides support for the Cabinet Committee on Domestic and External Security Co-ordination and for the Officials’ Committee for Domestic and External Security Co-ordination (ODESC), an inter-departmental body chaired by the Chief Executive of DPMC.
These networks include policy, operational and intelligence organisations such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Treasury, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Defence, New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Customs Service, New Zealand Police, Department of Labour, New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, and Government Communications Security Bureau.
Do these people not have their paw marks all over the great Waiheke Island Foot and Mouth Hoax over-reaction? The terrorism show trial that never was? Ahmed Zaoui? Tamiflu? The EFA? The confiscation Act? The SFO abolition?
That department just got 47 million dollars for their old wendy house.