Joe Hendren

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Good riddance Rogernomes

I am pleased to hear George Hawkins and Paul Swain will not be seeking cabinet posts in the new Labour-led Government.

Apart from being a expert bungle of a Minister, George is clearly identified as being on the right of Labour's caucus, and was Roger Douglas' personal pick to take over as MP for Manurewa in 1990.

According to former Chair of the Rimutaka Labour electorate committee Nick Kelly, Paul Swain opposed the creation of Kiwibank inside the Labour party, on the grounds the state should not be involved in banking. Kiwibank is now a huge success, exceeding even its own expectations of customer growth. Swain now appears to have changed his tune, and opposes the sale of Kiwibank to the private sector. Labour now rather dishonestly claims credit for Kiwibank on the campaign trail, despite the fact the bank would not have got started without the Alliance in Government between 1999 and 2002. Labour continues to place Rogernomes in high positions.

I strongly suspect the announcement today that Marian Hobbs, George and Paul will not seek cabinet posts will not be enough to "renew and refresh" for 2008. They were only ever junior ministers anyway. That said, Labour do have a couple of years to complete more of a spruce up.

Removing leftovers from the 1980s such as Trevor Mallard, Jim Sutton and Annette King would be a good start. King is known to have had a 'close' relationship with Douglas when she was a backbench MP. Removing Sutton, an arrogant free trade fundamentalist from the Trade negotiations portfolio would send a signal Labour would be more willing to listen to the concerns of the Green party regarding free trade deals, even if it did not result in significant policy concessions.

If Helen really wants to be brave, she should remove Phil Goff - as a Minister in the 1980s he introduced student fees, making him at least partly responsible for legitimising National's later agenda.

It is a shame Taito Phillip Field hasn't taken my advice to take himself out of the running for cabinet - hopefully his colleagues will use their caucus vote to do it for him.

This is not to say that Labour's current line-up of MPs lacks talent. The promotion of Tim Barnett to the cabinet is long overdue. Not only is he one of Labour's more principled MPs, during the last six years Tim has managed to get more legislation successfully passed (directly or indirectly) than most junior ministers. His advocacy of the Civil Union Act and the Prostitution Law Reform Act are significant achievements.

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