Thursday, September 01, 2016

More cronyism

Another day, another crony appointment for National - this time for disgraced and retiring MP Maurice Williamson:

Controversial National MP Maurice Williamson is the latest in a growing trend of MPs being awarded sought-after diplomatics postings upon retirement from politics.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has named Williamson New Zealand's next Consul-General in Los Angeles, replacing Leon Grice.

He was one of a number of new diplomatic appointments around the globe, announced on Wednesday.

It comes just a month after Williamson announced he would be retiring from politics at the next election.

Which makes the payoff pretty obvious: Williamson retires, and he gets another few years sucking from the public teat, with an expanded expense account to boot. Its simply a corrupt abuse of office from a government which seems to regard our public service - because diplomats are public servants - simply as a way to reward and favour cronies. And insofar as the position of Consul-General is actually important, that corruption comes at the cost of undermining our government's diplomatic capacity (if OTOH, its not important, and is just a sinecure for washed-up former MPs, then that sounds like a strong case to disestablish the position entirely).

The amusing news is that Winston Peters is threatening to sack all of National's crony diplomatic appointments if he ever gets into power. While I'm not going to pretend he's doing this out of any principle - he pretty nakedly wants such an appointment for himself, but there's a National crony in the way - the prospect of a clean out is refreshing. And maybe we'll even be able to remove Ministers' powers to appoint ambassadors, and have those jobs done by professional diplomats appointed on merit, rather than former MPs who want a publicly-funded holiday...