Wednesday, December 05, 2012

More cronyism

National continues its habit of appointing cronies to government sinecures, with the appointment of SkyTV lobbyist Tony O’Brien to the board of Antarctica New Zealand. Even the Herald's John Drinnan thinks it looks dodgy:

The unusual appointment of the legendary (and still very active) political lobbyist to the foreign affairs role has raised eyebrows - even among his Nats colleagues who see no obvious expertise, unlike businessman Rob Fyfe and scientist Carolyn Burns, who were also picked.

A McCully friend said the two men like each other, with a friendship dating back to the days when McCully was a leading light in the Parliamentary Rugby Club and Sky TV organised its overseas jaunts.

And the Government was not shy either in appointing Saunders & Unsworth political lobbyist Barrie Saunders to the board of TVNZ, and former lobbyist Richard Griffin as chairman of Radio New Zealand.

According to a parliamentary source McCully told colleagues he picked O'Brien for the Antarctic board because Sky ran the National Geographic and Discovery channels and he believed that might help promote filming. TV sources doubt that link exists.

No expertise, but personal links with the Minister - sounds like pure cronyism. The usual OIA request has been filed, and we'll hopefully learn in January whether there is in fact any real justification for this appointment and whether the Minister can run a proper appointments process. Assuming of course McCully deigns to comply with the law.