Wednesday, June 21, 2006

National's Cub Scout Shadow Ministry

It has long bothered me that the pretender to the office of Prime Minister has neither been a Minister nor a member of a government. He's in fact the first leader to be unable to win his own seat. Sure he was the Central Banker, but the two roles don't compare - Helen's not pimping to take the role of Govenor of the Reserve Bank so why trust Don with the keys to the ninth floor? Likewise Key is light on experience to be asking to be the Minister of Finance. The simple fact is that being a Minister is not like being a banker or a sharetrader. These are both complex roles, sure, but they're not the best preparation for senior government office.

Looking across National's front bench, they're incredibly light on parliamentary experience. From my quick review, only English, Ryall and Carter have been in government. Brash, Brownlee, Key, Power, Collins and Rich all joined after National moved to the left of the Speaker.

Good old David Farrar, irons in too many fires me-thinks, claims that in 1999 Labour was light on experience but he's quite wrong. Aside from Clark and Cullen, Goff, Sutton and King had all been Ministers and Mallard had been Chief Whip.

10 comments:

proud2bkiwi said...

I don't think we should place too much emphasis on previous ministerial experience. David Parker is one of the government's best new ministers and has only been in parliament since 2002.

If we want longer term, stable governments, we need to accept that in instances when governments change there will be a lot of new faces. But there is a need for parliamentary experience. When Labour took office in 1999, it had people like Steve Maharey, who while never having been in government had at least had 9 years in opposition to learn how parliament works and develop an alternative vision and policy. National are pretty light on parliamentary experience, which in my view is more important than previous ministerial experience.

You are right to question who National's new faces are and whether they are up to it. Brash and Key couldn't even work out the difference between GST inclusive and GST exclusive figures, and given they are both supposed to be economic heavyweights, why has National failed to produce an alternative budget like Labour did when in opposition?

backin15 said...

Fair points. Parker is an exception though as many newer MPs have struggled with Ministerial roles - the NZ First Ministers in coalition are a case in point.

If Key or Brash should ever hold the top job, they'd be in a relatively small group of MPs that had not been in government or executive prior to being PM.

Lange is the obvious comparator, but then to paraphrase former Vice Presidential candidate Lloyd Bentsen, "Key/Brash is no Jack Kennedy".

Anonymous said...

This website contains some interesting historical information on NZ's former PMs: http://www.primeminister.govt.nz/oldpms/index.html

It is interesting to note that since 1935 there have only been three New Zealand Prime Ministers with no previous ministerial experience, Savage, Kirk and Lange. All were Labour leaders...

backin15 said...

Excellent comment, no hint of irony. Thanks - I'm familiar with the site, the aforementioned Mr Farrar developed it (kudos).

proud2bkiwi said...

Interesting bit of history, but no comfort for the National Party. Savage, Kirk and Lange all had huge charisma, which Brash certainly doesn't and I doubt Key does either. In Key's case, one should not confuse charisma with unctuousness.

The other thing those leaders had when they became PM was a degree of party unity the Nats have yet to demonstrate. There is a political immaturity to the National caucus that is becoming more and more obvious every time their new MPs open their mouths...

backin15 said...

When will his caucus move against him do you think? If the Nats currently have a lead on Labour, though its against conventional wisdom, why not move now and either take the hit in the polls or consolidate the lead as a new leadership enjoys a few months in the limelight?

proud2bkiwi said...

National Party leadership challenges always happen in October. Shipley rolled Bolger, English rolled Shipley, Brash rolled English - all in October!

backin15 said...

How odd! Surely coincidence?

Shall we start a sweepstake? I'll pick Key and English to roll him in July next year when attention is otherwise focused on the rugby World Cup.

Any takers?

Dave C said...

I'm hardly going to disagree with you too much on this issue, but I am a bit uncomfortable with Brash's list MP status being added to his list of sins. I'd argue that having List PMs and Opposition Leaders is an inevitable and appropriate aspect of the maturation of our MMP electoral system.
I seem to recall that in West Germany, social democratic leader Willy Brandt actually gave up his seat to become a List-only Chancellor, at least in part to counter any perceptions of List members being second class.

backin15 said...

Far point. You're probably right that having a leader as a list member will become normalised - it's just that he's not had a career win (to use a sporting metaphor) and you've got to wonder?