Joe Hendren

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Musical cabinets #1

Some thoughts on Helen's cabinet reshuffle. More to come.

The cabinet was meant to be announced yesterday, but was delayed until today. Its possible one, or a number of ministers were not happy with the jobs Helen allocated to them. I wonder who they were?

Michael Cullen: Keeps Finance, gains Tertiary Education

It is likely interest free student loans will be Labour's flagship policy this term, at least when they are talking to their left, so it makes sense for the policy to handled by a senior minister. National and Act will continue to attempt to construct inflated costings using dubious assumptions, because they would prefer to keep charging students 7% interest on their loans and use this money to give themselves tax cuts. Cullen's expertise in the finance area will help deflect these self interested claims. Labour will want all the glory it can get from this policy for itself, which is why Jim never had a chance at gaining the tertiary education portfolio.

I hope Cullen has not be placed in the tertiary education portfolio to design a tertiary education savings scheme, as such a policy would be a complete betrayal of Labour's social democratic heritage. On 17th of May this year Cullen claimed to be the "strongest supporter of the tertiary savings scheme". Instead Cullen should aim to universalise allowances and bring fees down. I hope Cullen will keep an eye on university accounts and ensure they are not using over inflated marketing budgets as an excuse to raise fees.

Jim Anderton: Loses Economic Development, gains Agriculture, Biosecurity and Fisheries

This stinks of a demotion. Jim is only ranked number three in the cabinet for the sake of appearances and the maintenance of ego. Anderton gained none of the major portfolios, so its safe to assume Jim got the scraps off the table once Helen had distributed the major portfolios to other senior ministers. I could say Jim is now the Minister of Animal Effluent, Nasty Diseases and Smelly Fish, but I won't, because that would be a touch too irreverent, even for me :)

Jim keeps an associate role in health and picks up an associate role in tertiary education. As the tertiary education role is officially an 'associate education' role, this would make Jim the associate of an associate minister! But to be fair I could see Jim make a worthwhile contribution to the trades and apprenticeship area with his experience in economic development, so I would imagine his job will be focused on skills development and such like .

Steve Maharey: Drops Social Development, becomes Minister of Education

I just hope Steve doesn't attempt to use any of Anthony Gidden's faddish techno-babble on 5 year olds. Children might ask "In which episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer can I see a 'stakeholder society'?". Teachers will be exasperated when asked what the 'third way is' and may have to rely on the wise words of former British Labour MP Austin Mitchel when he was asked for a definition: "Its such a mess. It's like defining a meringue." (Sunday Times, 27/09/05

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