Brian Edwards excuses for cronyism | The Jackal

11 Nov 2012

Brian Edwards excuses for cronyism

Yesterday, The Nation reported:

Well the irony is that Clare Curran said more or less exactly that herself while saying you know you had to be suspicious of this. I mean you just have to live with all this. This is the reality of government appointed boards. Ah! If you're going to have government appointed boards, the people on them are going to support your particular government.

Perhaps it was the pervasive right wing stench of Duncan Garner that was clouding his thoughts, or perhaps he is truly that deluded.

What Brian Edwards is talking about here is cronyism. Make no bones about it, Edwards is making the excuse that because governments decide, there shouldn't be any proper process to ensure the right person for the job is appointed, and that making biased decisions based on political association is somehow acceptable.

In my opinion, appointments to important positions should always be made for reasons of ability and experience, and not because of who the applicant knows... Conflicts of interest should always be avoided.

Personally, I find the fact that Edwards is making excuses for National's cronyism astounding! Being that he's meant to be one of the left wings most ardent supporters and is an experienced commentator, he should know better. The left wing, especially the Greens, have ardently railed against cronyism. That's one of the reasons I support them, and not National.

Saying that it's always been this way is not a good enough reason to just accept the status quo and allow the degradation of the public service through appointing people to prominent positions solely on the basis of who they know. In fact the independence of certain organisations is of paramount importance to a functional democracy that is working in the best interest of all New Zealanders, not just a select few.

The people running organisations that hold great sway over the public should be entirely independent of governmental interference, and if that requires a change in how the system is currently being operated, then so be it. In fact conflicts of interest are currently legislated against, all that is really required is enforcement of those laws... Laws, as it so happens, that Brian Edwards seems to disagree with. My respect for him and what he says has therefore been seriously downgraded.

Edwards goes on to imply that it's OK if the incoming government sacks all the public service employees who support the other team. This is wrong on so many levels it's not funny, not least because of the additional cost to the taxpayer of swapping a huge sector of the public workforce every few years just because of their political associations.

But perhaps an even more disturbing aspect to Brian Edwards' purely right wing sentiments expressed on The Nation yesterday is that he totally misrepresented what Clare Curran wrote:

But this is our state broadcaster.

Media independent of political interference is a critical cornerstone of a functioning democracy. I contend we have crossed a line in the last four years. This is a deeply important issue.

No Right Turn reports:

Cronyism is bad enough; cronyism in this sort of position is intolerable. Appointments to state broadcasters should be independent and apolitical. Anything less is simply inviting abuse.

I couldn't agree more. This is not an isolated incident of cronyism by National, with appointments being made left right and centre by the right wing for no better reason than they support the current government, or worse yet are related to various National ministers in some way. National's rampant cronyism gives weight to the saying; it's not what you know, it's who you know. It might be a bit harsh to say that Edwards is conforming because he wants a slice of that corrupt pie. But what other reason is there?

I really do hope he contemplates this issue a bit more, and comes to the realization that cronyism within government appointments is not acceptable on any level. It would be sad to see somebody who is perhaps New Zealands most experienced and well-respected left wing journalist get sucked into accepting something that is so clearly detrimental to New Zealand, and our democracy.