| | |
Homepage | login or create an account

Govt Brushes Off Criticism Of Rankin Appointment

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Paula Bennett. Pic: NZPA
Paula Bennett. Pic: NZPA

Wellington, May 13 NZPA - Criticism of Christine Rankin's appointment to the Families Commission is being brushed off by ministers who say she will be just one voice at the table.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday announced the former Work and Income boss had been appointed to the commission, set up at the behest of United Future leader Peter Dunne as part of a post-2002 election deal with Labour.

Mr Dunne has condemned her appointment as a commissioner, saying it was "untenable" and she was "grossly unsuitable" for the position.

Mr Dunne said the commission's work would be disrupted.

A member of the commission's Maori advisory committee, Druis Barrett, quit today, citing Ms Rankin's appointment as one of the reasons.

"I was kind of gutted that she was appointed. She made some derogatory comments about Maori last year and that didn't sit too well with me," she said on One News.

"I wouldn't go as far as to say she's racist but she's damn well close to it."

Ms Bennett told reporters it was disappointing some people were not "giving it a go".

Asked if she was surprised by the reaction to the appointment, Ms Bennett said: "You would think she was actually running the show and was moving to Wellington and was going to be in charge of a budget of millions where the reality is she's one person sitting around a table with six others."

In Parliament, Ms Bennett said the appointment went through the normal Cabinet process and Mr Dunne had been consulted over it.

The appointment came on the same day that the Ministry of Social Development announced it would shed 200 jobs -- a "slap in the face" for workers given the culture of extravagance Ms Rankin had overseen when she headed Work and Income, Labour's deputy leader Annette King said.

Spending had included $1 million on a new logo and rebranding of her department, $80,000 on roadshows, $25,000 on self-promotion videos and $235,000 on a conference, Ms King said.

Green MP Sue Bradford, whose anti-smacking bill was vehemently opposed by Ms Rankin, said the appointment was a "form of political sabotage".

The bill removed the defence of reasonable force in child assault cases and Ms Rankin was spokeswoman of For The Sake Of Our Children Trust, which opposed it.

She also caused a stir by calling former Prime Minister Helen Clark childless and saying Maori needed to face up to what a big problem child abuse was for them.

Despite the criticism, Ms Rankin said she would be accepting the appointment.

"Good heavens, they must be really scared of my views," she said."

Lobby group Family First welcomed Ms Rankin's appointment, saying it would "bring the commission down to earth".

It is understood Ms Rankin's appointment was hotly debated in Cabinet.

NZPA PAR il mt pw gt

About : Politics

Find the latest politics and election news, 'how to' guides and party policies on Guide2Politics.


Your Questions. Independent Answers.