Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 25/7/23

Taxpayers’ Union is cheered by the slimming of the Cabinet – and it can’t grumble about Churchill trust appointments

One thing to be said about the latest news on the government’s official website is that taxpayers have scant cause for complaint about spending excesses.

One announcement – the reallocation of Kiri Allan’s ministerial portfolios – means more work is being done by a slimmer cabinet. Or rather, more responsibilities are being shared by a reduced cabinet.

The other announcement – from the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Priyanca Radhakrishnan – was to name four people appointed to the Board of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Board member David Ivory has been appointed as Chair and Ian McDonald has been reappointed for a further term of office. Two new members, Julie Hardaker and Anthony (Tony) Lepper, will be joining the Board.

The rewards won’t be rich and the trust’s drain on the public purse is modest.

  • According to the trust’s 2020/2021 annual report (the most recent available on its website) –The Trust derives its income from its investments, interest, dividends and donations; and
  • Board members serve voluntarily. On occasion past Fellows and others provide services at no cost to the Trust.
  • The administrative costs of $37,005 shown in the Statement of Financial Performance were the only costs borne by the Trust. The Crown funds the Department of Internal Affairs to provide secretariat, advisory and accounting services to the Trust
And as troughs go, this one is modest. During the year there were six Fellowships totalling $45,200 awarded from 19 applications submitted.

Latest from the Beehive

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has announced the reallocation of Kiri Allan’s ministerial portfolios, promoting newer Ministers who have demonstrated promise.

Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, has announced four appointments to the Board of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

In his statement, Chris Hipkins announced:

Ginny Andersen will become the Minister of Justice. Aligning the Justice and Police portfolios will be important in the coming weeks as the government progresses ram raid legislation to ensure young offenders face more accountability for their crimes.

Kieran McAnulty will become the Minister for Regional Development, which aligns with his current portfolio of Rural Communities.

Grant Robertson – already leading the Government’s rolling maul of initiatives supporting communities impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle – will take over the lead coordination role for Tairawhiti.

David Parker (at his request) will pass on Revenue to Barbara Edmonds, freeing him up to focus on Transport. Edmonds also becomes an Associate Minister of Finance.

Her Associate Health role which will be redistributed among other Health Ministers.

Damien O’Connor will pick up Associate Transport and will support David Parker in that role.

Overall there are 25 Ministers in the executive, with 18 in Cabinet.

The Taxpayers’ Union said Hipkins was leading the way, and for the first time in a generation is delivering a slimmed down, more efficient, Cabinet.

Perhaps. It has just a few months to prove itself and Point of Order will reserve judgement on the efficiency issue.

But Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says:

“Any expert in governance and meeting dynamics will tell you that any more than about 15 is detrimental to diversity of expressed views debate and good decision making.”

He recalled that back in the old days, under Prime Ministers Seddon and Ward, Cabinet was made up of eight to nine. Coates had 11, then Savage 14. Holland had 16, Holyoake (by his second administration) increased it to 17, Prime Ministers Marshall and Kirk had 18 Cabinet Ministers which continued under Prime Minister Muldoon until reaching 20 by the end of that Government.

Williams acknowledged that in those days there were far more Parliamentary under-secretaries, who are technically not in the Executive Branch, don’t attend Cabinet, and don’t get as many of the perks and staff as the Ministers outside of Cabinet that ‘hang on’ in the modern era.

The Lange Ministry stuck with the 20, as have subsequent Prime Ministers – although the number of Ministers outside of Cabinet has vastly increased.

Williams observed:

“Not since Prime Minister Kirk have we had such a streamlined Ministry, and Chris Hipkins deserves credit for not replacing Ministers Wood and Allan and being the first Prime Minister to arrest the growth.

“Christopher Luxon should seize the opportunity. If Hipkins can operate government with 18 Cabinet Ministers, Luxon should commit to doing the same. That would not only mean savings for taxpayers, but likely to lead to better collective decision making.”

The four appointments announced by Priyanca Radhakrishnan will serve on the Board of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, providing it with expertise in education, business, healthcare, community services, marketing, sports, governance, law, environmental protection, grant allocation, and community development.

“I am looking forward to the new appointee’s contributions toward selecting exceptional people who will have the skills and capacity to contribute to their profession, and their communities, through Winston Churchill Fellowships,” Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established as a living memorial to Sir Winston Churchill.

It distributes funds to assist New Zealanders to travel overseas to learn more about other people and cultures and to investigate topics that will help them to increase their contribution to the community and their trade, industry, profession, business or calling.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton

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