Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 24/4/24

At a time of media turmoil, Melissa had nothing to proclaim as Minister – and now she has been demoted

Melissa Lee – as may be discerned from the screenshot below – has not been demoted for doing something seriously wrong as Minister of Media and Communications.

To the contrary, her career has been besmirched by her failure to do anything – an accomplishment embarrassingly recorded on a blank sheet on the official government website (which was updated this afternoon to remove her name from the page).

During around five months in the portfolio, she delivered not one speech and issued not one press statement.

Yet she was supposed to be doing a job considered so demanding that she was given the assistance of a Parliamentary Under-Secretary, and on her watch the broadcasting part of the sector for which she has had ministerial responsibility has been in a state of upheaval.

Fair to say, Lee’s ministerial diary does show she has been turning up at meetings, giving media interviews, and so on. She did so on around 24 occasions as Minister of the Media and Communications in the month of February

But today, Lee had her workload lightened. She has been stripped of her Media and Communications duties to focus on ….

Ah – now she has has charge only of Economic Development and Ethnic Affairs (as minister) and the ACC (as associate minister).

Oh – and she doesn’t have to bother about reading Cabinet papers. She has been given the heave-ho from that body to become a minister outside of Cabinet.

The news can be found here, along with two other announcements from ministers with something to do and/or say:

Latest from the Beehive

24 APRIL 2024

Paul Goldsmith will take on responsibility for the Media and Communications portfolio, while Louise Upston will pick up the Disability Issues portfolio, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced today.

Recreational catch limits will be reduced in areas of Fiordland and the Chatham Islands to help keep those fisheries healthy and sustainable, Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones says.

23 APRIL 2024

Energy Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed an important milestone in New Zealand’s hydrogen future, with the opening of the country’s first network of hydrogen refuelling stations in Wiri.

As you can see, Paul Goldsmith will take on responsibility for the Media and Communications portfolio while Louise Upston will “pick up” the Disability Issues portfolio, which means she will take over that portfolio from Penny Simmonds.

We can’t be sure what Melissa Lee might have been relentlessly focused on during her five months with media and communications responsibilities.

On the other hand, Luxon said:

“Our Government is relentlessly focused on getting New Zealand back on track. As issues change in prominence, I plan to adjust Ministerial responsibilities to make sure we are best set up to deliver for New Zealanders.”

Lee has had many years in opposition to get to grips with media and communications issues.

But apparently this requires someone more senior, even though Goldsmith hasn’t been trying get to grips with media and communications issues (until now), because he has had other responsibilities.

As Luxon out it:

“It has become clear in recent months that there are significant challenges in the media sector. Similarly, we have discovered major financial issues with programmes run by the Ministry of Disabled People.

“I have come to the view it is important to have senior Cabinet Ministers considering these issues.

“There are significant synergies between the Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio and Media and Communications – as such, I’ve asked Paul Goldsmith to take the lead on media issues for the Government.

“The challenges facing our media are being seen all over the world. While there are limited levers for Government here, I look forward to Paul progressing work to ensure regulatory settings are appropriate to enable the media to modernise and adapt to a changing media environment.

“The Ministry of Disabled People is a departmental agency within the Ministry of Social Development, so I have asked Louise Upston to take responsibility for the Disabilities Issues portfolio. This will free Penny Simmonds up to focus on the Environment portfolio and the major changes she is progressing to improve tertiary education.

“Given the changes, Melissa Lee will move outside of Cabinet. Climate Change and Revenue Minister Simon Watts will move into Cabinet.”

The Prime Minister has advised the Governor-General to give effect to the changes today.

And when Point of Order checked the government’s official website this afternoon, it became apparent he must also have advised whoever looks after its contents.

Our check (and a somewhat cursory count) suggests there are 80 or so portfolio jobs for Luxon to distribute.

Media and Communications is not the only one to show the ministers have yet to issue a press statement

The others are:

Community and Voluntary Sector – Louise Upston.

Customs – Casey Costello.

Food Safety- Andrew Hoggard.

Land Information – Chris Penk.

Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti – Tama Potaka.

Ministerial Services – Christopher Luxon.

National Security and Intelligence – Christopher Luxon.

NZSIS – Judith Collins.

Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence – Karen Chhour.

Racing – Winston Peters.

Seniors – Casey Costello.

Veterans – Chris Penk.

Whānau Ora – Tama Potaka.

Just a thought : what scope is there in those portfolios for budget cuts?

The Ministers in charge of National Security and Intelligence and the NZSIS are probably disinclined to draw too much attention to what’s going on there.

But the others?

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


Anonymous said...

If I may be so bold, to state -

"That when the news that TV3/News Hub was imploding, the 'dear lady' was asked by media pundits within the Parliament Building - what was she going to do, her response was to shrug her shoulders".

What followed was statements by many - that she had shown a lack of concern, and people wondered (then) if she was suitable Ministerial material.

And since the indication of News Hub being a 'gone bugger', there was silence from her office.

So, with Ms Lee being 'moved' her chances of being a future Minister in a National Govt is now 'zero chance of that'.

Anonymous said...

However, to be fair:

people wondered if Ms Lee's silence was to allow the MSM to self - implode through loss of clients ....... since their sole focus since October has been to denigrate the Coalition with a view to its destruction

Does Mr Luxon really think the MSM will be " nicer " to him now?

oneblokesview said...

Contrary to the Pile On re Melissa Lee.

I think she did what needed to be done.!!!!!!!!!!!

Why would the government get involved in commercial business failure??
The marketplace is already addressing the issues (blogs/alternate media) and off course STUFF being paid to prop up TV3 news.

If the Coalition wants to reduce the size of Government the we need more Melissa Lees who keep their sticky fingers out of commercial affairs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with oneblokesview - what really was to be done? The past Govt was way too deep in the affairs of the MSM what with the PIJF and, moreover, what Willie Jackson was trying to gerrymander.