Anyone who was expecting National to come out of the starting block in 2013, pumped up and raring to get stuck into the milieu of problems besieging New Zealand would have sorely disappointed. Devoid of ideas, bereft of accountable Ministers and no clear direction in which to take New Zealand leave the distinct impression that this Government is a rudderless ship at sea with no captain (Prime Minister to tell the crew (Ministers)what needs to be done or to lead by example. The National Party promise to be a much more dynamic governing party that Labour was under former Prime Minister Helen Clark is something of a joke.
Prime Minister John Key announced the Cabinet reshuffle that New Zealanders knew must surely be coming after the disastrous year of 2012. He demoted a couple of Ministers who were under-performing (Kate Wilkinson, Minister for Conservation and Phil Heatley, Minister for Housing)to the back bench. He made his Mister Fix-it, Stephen Joyce responsible for cleaning up the shambles that is Novopay. Dr Nick Smith returned from a year in the wilderness of his own making as a result of the A.C.C. scandal involving Bronwyn Pullar, to take the Minister of Conservation and Housing roles.
But the reshuffle left critically under-performing Ministers of the Crown in place – notably the amazingly hopeless Minister of Education, Hekia Parata; the chillingly indifferent Minister of Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee; the outlandish Minister of Social Welfare, Paula Bennett.
Whilst Minister of Health Tony Ryall has some how managed to stay out of the Parliamentary warfare to a large degree thus far, his Ministry’s ignorance of a review of help for disabled people in 2008 that gave the Government two years to address the issues, now puts him in the spotlight. The attempts to save money in the health system thus far seem to have not claimed any significant casualties, as has happened in education, social welfare, the environment, the Defence Force, among other areas of Government responsibility.
The Auditor General’s report into the civilianisation of the Defence Force slammed the actions of Minister Jonathan Coleman, who appears to have played down the impact, as short sighted and likely to end up costing more than is saved. The recent history of spending in the Defence Force however, shows we should not be surprised by the money saving gimmick.
The Prime Minister also announced that the Government would fund tradesmen to the tune of N.Z.$2000 if they were to become builders, so that there are enough builders able to assist in the reconstruction of Christchurch.
But where is the vision, Prime Minister? You know, looking past 2014, and into the future where legacies are made and visions realised. I am starting to think that you have not got a vision for New Zealand. I am thinking that the National party bill board signs promising a brighter future are ripe for an associated Tui ad. National continues the visionless individualistic actions of past governments who did not get their Ministers to sit down together and thrash out a common set of goals and how they would be achieved. The increasingly murky waters of political transparency, the reluctance to supply information under the Official Information Act when requested and the naked power grabs of legislation such as the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act tell me our reputation as nation with good Government is under threat.
How can I or anyone else like that start to 2013?