The Dim-Post

March 25, 2013

Helter Skelter

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 9:36 am

Via Stuff:

Prime minister John Key has defended new Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy as a “practical New Zealander” who will “surprise on the upside”.

Key denied the Government was trying to devalue the role by employing a squash star with limited experience.

‘Surprise on the upside?’ Sounds like a challenge New Zealand! Let’s all have a race-war, turning on each other in a bloody orgy of ethnic cleansing and see how long it takes Dame Susan to stop us.

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103 Comments »

  1. Given our nation’s love of sport, appointing someone with the only experience that counts is positively honouring the role. On the upside.

    Comment by Sacha — March 25, 2013 @ 9:59 am

  2. Can someone translate what Key even means by “surprise on the upside”?

    Comment by Gregor W — March 25, 2013 @ 11:50 am

  3. While she may surprise us on the upside, will she dismay us on the downside?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 25, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  4. I think the Govt has given due consideration to this important position and employed an appropriate person.

    JC

    Comment by JC — March 25, 2013 @ 12:16 pm

  5. Maybe he meant to say “On the upside, she’ll surprise you”. Everyone likes surprises.

    But probably not. His version has that certain ‘going forward there will be learnings’ stamp of whatever the hell is that has happened to her Majesty’s English.

    I wish we could have a commission to stamp that crap out as well. I nominate Sam Hunt.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 25, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

  6. I’m still getting over Joris De Bres’ tenure, especially his comment re the Taliban and its comparison to colonisation.

    Comment by Ross — March 25, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

  7. A transcript of Key’s utterances reads like a Japanese T-shirt slogan.

    “Words no need, shake time for happy life”.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — March 25, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

  8. A practical New Zealander, huh? I think he’s been taking all too literally the talk about the Commissioner needing to be the kind of person who can build bridges and mend fences .

    As for “surprise on the upside,” it may be a porn term, but I couldn’t swear to it. Anyone trying to impose coherence on Mr Key’s utterances really has their work cut out for them.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — March 25, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

  9. A transcript of Key’s utterances reads like a Japanese T-shirt slogan.

    DIY Japankeys-isms.

    1. Obtain a gobbet of PM wisdom (my personal favorite from the Sackur interview)
    2. By the power of Babelfish, perform an English-Japanese-English translation
    3. Enjoy!

    “Give him a counterview, such as lawyer and one academic, one another you can to provide I.”

    Comment by Gregor W — March 25, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

  10. Wot Ross said but with a dash of ‘who the fuck cares’.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 25, 2013 @ 2:37 pm

  11. speaking of porn terms
    “1. Obtain a gobbet of PM wisdom ”
    - did he really say that?

    Comment by framu — March 25, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

  12. I used gobbet to the extent that the PMs comments often seem to be contingent, half-chewed, throwaway soundbites – ideas quickly formed and strongly held, but only until the next focus group comes along – rather than the result of considered thought or deeply held convictions.

    The porn alternative would be that the PMs utterances are akin to casting pearl necklaces before swine.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 25, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  13. Does that then mean that what usually comes out of our PMs mouth is kinda “sub porn” but when hes really really trying, and you know, giving it lots of thought, he manages to get there? :-)

    Comment by framu — March 25, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

  14. And there’s this report:

    Prime Minister John Key says Solid Energy was not discouraged from buying the Pike River mine.
    The state-owned coal company is in financial difficulty, with debts of more than $390 million.
    When Solid Energy bought the mine last year it said it would take all reasonable steps to recover the bodies of 29 miners who died at the West Coast mine in explosions in November 2010, provided the recovery plan was safe and financially credible.
    Asked on Monday if the Government encouraged Solid Energy to buy the mine, Mr Key said they weren’t discouraged, and to the best of his recollection it was Solid Energy’s idea.
    Mr Key says he “vaguely remembers them raising the issue with us, They weren’t a buyer at any price.”
    Mr Key says the Government believed Solid Energy had the best chance of understanding conditions for body recovery, and had a strong relationship with the West Coast mining community.

    Which RNZ manages to headline as

    “PM says Pike purchase Solid Energy’s idea”

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/131264/pm-says-pike-purchase-solid-energy's-idea

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 25, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

  15. Surprise on the upside means Key knows what Devoy is going to do.

    Upside means Devoy is going to do what Key and Collins want her to do.

    This has been easier to decode than “step change”, which I notice the fawning media sycophants have stopped using.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — March 25, 2013 @ 8:04 pm

  16. Day by day, step by step, the whinging left takes the DimPost closer to amalgamation with The Standard.

    Comment by Tim — March 25, 2013 @ 8:28 pm

  17. The government is intent on ignoring recent polling in Grey Lynn cafes that shows only liberals Care For The Children.

    Comment by NeilM — March 25, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

  18. What’s a liberal, NeilM?

    Comment by Gregor W — March 25, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

  19. @framu
    Not sure you followed – Gregor W’s T-Shirt generator works thus:

    1. Take PM quote – “You’re munted mate, you’re never gonna make it, you’ve got that gay red top on there”
    2. Go to http://www.bing.com/translator/ translate from Japanese to English and back.
    3. Enjoy! “Gay red top has munted buddies have never attempted you have there.”

    Comment by Richard29 — March 25, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

  20. So JK wisdom:
    “The good news is that I was having dinner with Ngati Porou, as opposed to their neighbouring iwi which is Tuhoe, in which case I would have been dinner, which wouldn’t have been quite so attractive,”
    Becomes:
    “I’m so attractive I think the dinner and is not”
    Which has the double benefit of fitting easier onto a t-shirt and being less offensive, which still retaining a high degree of unintelligibility.

    Comment by Richard29 — March 25, 2013 @ 9:45 pm

  21. “I guess I’m reasonably confident in all honesty. But I definitely don’t think I’m arrogant. I’m pretty down to earth, I mean I’m genuinely down to earth.”
    =
    “I in all honesty reasonable sure I believe. However, I don’t think I was arrogant, I definitely. I mean on Earth really pretty I’m the Earth.”

    Comment by Richard29 — March 25, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

  22. OK last one:
    “I think what happens when you are prime minister is no day is the same and every day you are under pressure. And there is always so much happening that the days just flash by and flash into weeks.”
    =
    “What happens when the Prime Minister and I are no day is the same as I think every day you’re being squeezed. Always so Flash just days and weeks are going to Flash”.

    Comment by Richard29 — March 25, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

  23. Gregor W, liberals are the middle class who pretend to be left wing but have the time to sit around going on about Devoy.

    The issue for them is how dare a conservative govt make a decision they don’t like.

    It’s not like the last one set a particularly high bar in achieving anything tangible.

    Comment by NeilM — March 25, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

  24. Richard29 – cool! didnt realise thats what was going on, i was just following my own porn lingo tangent. Sorry folks

    Comment by framu — March 26, 2013 @ 7:52 am

  25. The issue for them is how dare a conservative govt make a decision they don’t like.

    We’ll see how content and serene NeilM is when the post-2014 Labour/Green Government appoints Kate De Goldie to be the head of the Financial Markets Authority.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 26, 2013 @ 8:08 am

  26. The difference being Flash is that the Race Relations Commissar is a toothless PR exercise while ….

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 26, 2013 @ 8:17 am

  27. How much does a person have to earn to be considered a liberal around here?

    Comment by Stuart — March 26, 2013 @ 8:34 am

  28. $’s per minutes worked in the hour is the preferred measure my good man.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 26, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  29. ‘Surprise on the upside?’ Sounds like a challenge New Zealand! Let’s all have a race-war…

    “Surprise on the upside” is a common terminology in forecasting.

    You have a projection for, say, the exchange rate (based on whatever fundamentals or observations you choose) but also recognise that there are risks to that projection – events that you think have a comparatively low probability but would impact the outcome if they came to pass. If you weigh up all those factors and conclude that your forecast has more probability of undershooting the final outcome than overshooting it, then you’d acknowledge the forecast has room for ‘upside surprise’.

    Comment by Phil — March 26, 2013 @ 9:43 am

  30. This was bound to happen at some point. Bronagh applied but was turned down because of lack of sporting skill.

    Comment by Dan — March 26, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  31. The difference being Flash is that the Race Relations Commissar is a toothless PR exercise while ….

    Quite. Not so much difference, then.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 26, 2013 @ 10:11 am

  32. Except the relative importance to the stability of the country weighs in heavily on the FMA head because lets honest the RRC has always been a wee bit of a waste of time.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 26, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  33. Phil, so he was saying it’s possible, but not likely, that she’ll be better than a bit shit?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — March 26, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

  34. If I may interject “surprise on the upside” in this context means she will pleasantly surprise you. While Phil is correct with his interpretation it is in a passive voice whereas Key’ comment is more aggressive in voice. AKA she couldn’t be any more shit that Joris de Bres.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 26, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

  35. @PB
    Very funny, but not quite what I was saying. To use the exchange rate forecast example again:

    I’m quite certain the effects of the drought will push the Kiwi down over the coming months as Fonterra, Stats NZ and others release earnings/output results. However, I’m reasonably confident that foreign demand for NZ government bonds and Treasury bills will keep some upward pressure on too.

    If I was using the PM’s terminology, I might say by 30 June we’ll be a US cent-and-a-half lower than where we are now (about $1NZD=$0.78USD) but with half-a-cent upside surprise from that projection being a reasonable alternative scenario.

    Comment by Phil — March 26, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

  36. Except the relative importance to the stability of the country weighs in heavily on the FMA…

    Oh, oddly named poster. You have a dry and cutting sense of humour. As if anything Simon Allen heads could ever deliver this … .

    AKA she couldn’t be any more shit that Joris de Bres.

    So … JdB did a very shit job of a role that is a wee bit of a waste of time anyway? Did you take a double dose of your judgmental pills this morning, or something?

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 26, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

  37. Fight fight fight. Are you going to take flushing blights shit TurgiD A7-98.1? Are ya, huh?!

    Comment by Tim — March 26, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

  38. At some point not so long ago liberals morphed into conservatives.

    What really is the objection to Devoy other than she’s not been given the job by Labour.

    Does the left really have to get its own way on every single issue in NZ or else it goes on and on about the end

    Comment by NeilM — March 26, 2013 @ 9:52 pm

  39. Oops

    “The end of democracy”

    It’s not like these sorts of postioma have real effect like in public health where people do real good.

    Comment by NeilM — March 26, 2013 @ 9:55 pm

  40. What really is the objection to Devoy other than she’s not been given the job by Labour.

    Her appointment is symptomatic of Keys pretty relaxed attitude to most things.

    Would you for example, think it’s OK to appoint someone to head the NZTA who had no experience in road safety issues, was supported in their appointment by a senior cabinet minister who suggested “He has two outstanding qualities. He’s a bloke and he can iron his own shirts”, who’s previous public position was New Zealand Poet Laureate, and who had previously opined in a newspaper that “The reality is that most New Zealanders either couldn’t care less or are frustrated by that what should be a rapid and efficient transit from point A to point B is marred by the imposition of speed limits”.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 26, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

  41. NeilM #17 “The government is intent on ignoring recent polling in Grey Lynn cafes that shows only liberals Care For The Children.”

    NeilM #23 “Liberals are the middle class who pretend to be left wing but have the time to sit around going on about Devoy. The issue for them is how dare a conservative govt make a decision they don’t like.”

    NeilM #38 “At some point not so long ago liberals morphed into conservatives.”

    I think you might need a lie down.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 26, 2013 @ 11:52 pm

  42. “surprise on the upside” is above all a piece of jargon. It comes from corporate managerialise, the home of “core competencies” and “downsizing” and “helicopter views”. Key is talking to his staunchest supporters – aspirational middle management private sector bureaucrats – in their own language.

    The thing is, most on the left by inclination would rather die by having their heart cut out with a plastic spoon than embrace the corporate drone culture of HR managers, finance dept accountants and the sort of thinking that sees appointing a new CIO with a background in private sector sales to an university IT department as a triumph of recruitment. So many (most?) of the left who are either creative, politicised, vocational or courageous enough to do something that bucks the norms of conventional success have happily ditched the corporate drone wars for jobs that usually allow them that intangible luxury of greater scope of critical thinking about the ludicrous logic of corporate groupthink.

    For critical thinkers, Key is a self-evident half wit who spouts corporate nonsense and mumbles poorly constructed rubbish to equally dim reporters. But while I and my friends may scoff at Key and his miserable use and abuse of the English language, around the new three burner BBQs in Milford self-important 30 and 40 something men and women talk in exactly the same way and they are the ones the corporate system rewards and promotes.

    Comment by Sanctuary — March 27, 2013 @ 2:37 am

  43. Good on you for sharing Sancy.

    (Step too far down the old frothing klass ware fare route again though. Just saying’ :-) )

    Comment by Tim — March 27, 2013 @ 4:24 am

  44. Oh how we all wish we could join you on your lofty perch Sanc. The cool clear air must be so bracing.

    Comment by Barry boyd — March 27, 2013 @ 6:57 am

  45. I find killing cats brings a sense of detachment.

    Comment by sanctury — March 27, 2013 @ 7:42 am

  46. What really is the objection to Devoy other than she’s not been given the job by Labour.

    I/S has argued quite convincingly that she fails to meet the necessary qualifications set out in law for the position (http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2013/03/was-devoys-appointment-unlawful.html). That would seem to be troubling.

    Or, let’s put it back on you, NeilM … what qualifies Devoy for the job, other than that National likes her?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 27, 2013 @ 7:53 am

  47. I understand Neil’s concept of liberals morphing into conservatives, and this has happened repeatedly in New Zealand politics, as well as conservatives morphing into liberals. But he seems to think that Devoy’s position is unquestionable, yet it is actually highly unusual for someone outside the political realm to be given such a high position first off the bat. I know our PM has probably had it on his mind for some time to get rid of English and make Jonah Lomu the Deputy Prime Minister, but that hasn’t happened. Something along those lines was bound to happen, though and we have it with Susan Devoy.

    Comment by Dan — March 27, 2013 @ 8:55 am

  48. “that she fails to meet the necessary qualifications set out in law”

    Oh gosh a legal opinion that settles it. Oh dear me that is troubling so it isn’t just pious righteousness about a state institution. Well done i/s you have managed to pick the peanuts out of the elephant shit.

    Going out on limb here sure that National can find its own equally troubling weasel legal opinion.

    Comment by Simon — March 27, 2013 @ 9:10 am

  49. http://weasellegal.com/Weasel_Legal_-_WeaselLegal/Weasel_Legal.html

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 27, 2013 @ 9:29 am

  50. Interesting approach to the importance of the Government abiding by the legal controls on the use (and abuse) of its discretion. I just hope the same writers didn’t rage against “outrages” like the Electoral Spending Validation legislation, Helen Clark’s painting “fraud” and PM motorcades being driven too fast. Seeing as the law is a mere chimera that means what the last legal opinion says it does.

    Alternatively, Simon et al could show just how Devoy meets the statutory requirements for the position, seeing as it’s so easy to do.

    Or yet again alternatively, we can wait to see what the advice to National was on the appointment and just what “weasel legal opinion” they came up with … and I write as a particularly slippery member of the Mustelid family myself.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 27, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

  51. AG, they used the same solicitors who advise GCSB.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 27, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

  52. AG, they used the same solicitors who advise GCSB.

    I think the problem with the GCSB is that they didn’t use any external lawyers, but instead relied on some internal legal bloke who just didn’t understand what different immigration statuses meant. But not to worry, really. I mean, why should the government be concerned with technicalities like “what the law says you can and can’t do”?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 27, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  53. “should the government be concerned with technicalities like “what the law says you can and can’t do”?”
    Why bother worrying about: they’ll only change it to suit themselves.

    Yeah, yeah, vote them out. But in a day and age where the main parties are, as NeilM pointed out, just different shades of liberaservatives, all involved in vigorous rattus ingurgitation…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 27, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  54. Oh look it’s a lawyer on the prowl http://www.johnandrewwright.com/2010/12/19/chuo-reclaimed-land-area/japanese-weasel-3671/

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 27, 2013 @ 3:20 pm

  55. Oh, CF … so cynical at such a young age. What did politics do to hurt you so?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 27, 2013 @ 4:08 pm

  56. I lived under Tony Blair…

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 27, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

  57. Must’ve got damp.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 27, 2013 @ 10:45 pm

  58. “Or, let’s put it back on you, NeilM … what qualifies Devoy for the job, other than that National likes her?”

    National and Labour are always giving jobs to people they like. What’s the problem with this instance? Oh, I/S claims it’s illegal. Well I’m not a layer but even I can read that a minister only had to give consideration to certain issues – they are not forced to abide by them.

    And I find it somewhat abhorrent that any one on the left should think that making a having a particular political opinion a legal prerequisite for a government job is a jolly good idea.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 12:46 am

  59. National and Labour are always giving jobs to people they like.

    Right. No problem with that – being able to do so is one of the reasons you try and get governmental power. But to go from there to say “because National (or Labour) appoints people it likes to positions, ipso facto there is no problem with National (or Labour) appointing whomsoever it likes to a given position” is faulty logic.

    Well I’m not a layer but even I can read that a minister only had to give consideration to certain issues – they are not forced to abide by them.

    Right. You aren’t a lawyer. So it’s forgivable when you read “must have regards to” as simply meaning “has to think about it but can then say it doesn’t matter and do whatever they want instead”. A lawyer with experience in administrative law, however, would not do so.

    And I find it somewhat abhorrent that any one on the left should think that making a having a particular political opinion a legal prerequisite for a government job is a jolly good idea.

    Errr … what? Who says “having a particular political opinion [is] a legal prerequisite” for the RRC job? The issue is one of experience and expertise with the underlying issues, not particular viewpoints. Apparently, Devoy’s only involvement with the issue of race relations prior to her appointment was penning a single op-ed on the issue. If this is enough to satisfy the Minister as to s13(a)&(b), then I guess I’m qualified to be governor of the Reserve Bank based on a blog post on quantative easing.

    Of course, the real underlying issue is that (to quote TrannyD says above) the Government thinks that “the RRC has always been a wee bit of a waste of time” so it doesn’t matter who they put into the role – and even better if the person they DO put in gets the left’s nose out of joint. OK … whatever. But as someone who thinks it matters that Governments at least make a token effort to do what the law tells them to, I find that attitude troubling.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 28, 2013 @ 8:12 am

  60. Oh … and NeilM … what qualifies Devoy for the job, other than that National likes her?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 28, 2013 @ 8:20 am

  61. Maybe Labour could just put together a lust if people unsuitable for government jobs.

    Robertson could then cross reference that with who their mothers were friends with just to make sure.

    “The issue is one of experience and expertise with the underlying issues, ”

    What objective measure do you have for that?

    It comes down to opinion and that’s a political factor, not objective fact.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 8:33 am

  62. “Oh … and NeilM … what qualifies Devoy for the job, other than that National likes her?”

    She’s had., like most people, a lot if life experience and that is sometimes of greater value than being able to mouth platitudes.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 8:37 am

  63. …She’s had., like most people, a lot if life experience…

    Yeah, she played squash a hundred years ago and then settled down in provincial N.Z. So that is Dorothy Parker, Nancy Wake and Rosa Parks all in one right there.

    Comment by Sanvtuary — March 28, 2013 @ 9:09 am

  64. What objective measure do you have for that?

    Gee, that’s a tricky one.
    Maybe some objective biographical evidence detailing professional expertise or academic knowledge in the area?

    That’s what I’m normally asked for as part of the hiring process.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 28, 2013 @ 9:27 am

  65. NeilM,

    With respect, you are floundering. Sure, Devoy’s appointment isn’t the worst thing any Government has ever done. But you’re betraying a certain “if my guys did it, it can’t be wrong” attitude. Which is fine if you want to be one of those sorts of people, I guess.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 28, 2013 @ 10:48 am

  66. “Maybe some objective biographical evidence detailing professional expertise or academic knowledge in the area?”

    So no one else could do the job?

    And who judges this professional experience and academic knowledge? I’ve plenty of people whose CVs might lead one to assume some capability but in reality they’re untrustworthy.

    The number of academics I’ve met who talk the talk on liberal issues but are essentially opportunistic self promoters.

    I don’t see how Devoy belittles the position, I don’t know if she’ll be any good or not, I’ll wait to see.

    Personally, I see these sorts of jobs going to a very narrow range of in- group people. I’d have a go at just giving the position to someone at random.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 11:22 am

  67. With any luck Devoy will be the last Race Relations Commissioner, ever. Putting aside the argument about whether she is qualified the position and office are superfluous if not totally irrelevant.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 28, 2013 @ 11:25 am

  68. Sure thing, NeilM. We’re all in a state of unavoidable epistemic uncertainty where any claim to truth is simply an assertion of power on the part of the person making it. Let me guess … majored in English Literature?

    By the way – seeing as criteria are all so malleable and who can really know whether anyone has properly met them and it’s all in the opinion of the Minister anyway, you are entirely comfortable with how Shane Jones handled Bull Lui’s immigration application, right?

    @ TransportationDevice A7-98.1

    With any luck Devoy will be the last Race Relations Commissioner, ever. Putting aside the argument about whether she is qualified the position and office are superfluous if not totally irrelevant.

    All it takes is an amendment act to change/repeal the Human Rights Act. Start lobbying your local MP now. But while it’s the law of the land, shouldn’t the Government (of whatever stripe) at least pretend to act in accordance with it? Because, if not … well, the Greens will one day be appointing people to the Board of the New Zealand Transport Agency. I wonder how Sarah Ulmer would like that job … after all, she’s been on a bicycle before!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 28, 2013 @ 11:46 am

  69. She’d probably be as good as any other mediocre choice.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — March 28, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  70. > Oh … and NeilM … what qualifies Devoy for the job, other than that National likes her?

    What qualified all the others, including Chris Laidlaw and Joris De Bres? Did being a trade unionist give De Bres the edge over the other candidates? Maybe Chris Laidlaw’s connections with the Labour Party helped with his appointment? Surely not.

    Comment by Ross — March 28, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

  71. The previous two holders of the job had some prior experience of cross-culturalinteractions … Laidlaw worked for the Commonwealth and as ambassador to Zimbabwe, de Bres was head of DoC (which has extensive interaction with Maori) as well as being an immigrant himself. So, sure they were both close to the Labour Party and this no doubt helped their appointments – politics is about helping friends and hurting enemies. But the difference between them and Devoy is that you can say with a straight face that they met the basic qualification for the role.

    Comment by Flashing Light — March 28, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

  72. “We’re all in a state of unavoidable epistemic uncertainty where any claim to truth is simply an assertion of power on the part of the person making it.”

    I’ve moved more to that position but not via a liberal arts degree. I happen to think our species is exceptionally prone to dressing up personal preference as objective fact.

    In terms of suitability for a job I personally think the prime consideration is the persons character and that can only be a judgement call. Dressing that up as some sort of objective decision I think is mistaken.

    I had no problem with the previous person, I can’t see just what was so absolutely amazing about what the did that would lead to excluding people with other backgrounds. I don’t believe that sensitivity to and ability with ethnic issues is detained by professional or academic experience.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

  73. Should read:

    “is determined by professional or academic experience.”

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

  74. In terms of suitability for a job I personally think the prime consideration is the persons character

    Be sure to ask for a character reference next time you see your dentist.

    Comment by Gregor W — March 28, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

  75. > The previous two holders of the job had some prior experience of cross-culturalinteractions.

    According to the HRC website:

    “Dame Susan Devoy DNZM, CBE is a former world squash champion and is currently the Director of Women Walking Ltd. She is also a board member of the Sustainability Council of New Zealand and a member and former Chair of the Halberg Trust.

    From 2000 to 2003 she was the Chief Executive Officer and Chair of Sport Bay of Plenty. Dame Susan served as a board member of the Auckland District Health Board (2000-2003). She is a trustee of TECT (Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust) and the Chairperson of the BNZ partners, Bay of Plenty.”

    I imagine Devoy would have interacted with plenty of cultures in those roles. No indication, though, whether she is a member of the Labour Party or intends to stand for Labour as an MP after she completes her 5 year stint as RRC.

    Comment by Ross — March 28, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

  76. “Be sure to ask for a character reference next time you see your dentist.”

    So by objective evidence of competency you mean a long programme of structured learning with competative entry, regular challenging assessments and huge possible legal liabilities once qualified.

    Ok.

    But I think the position of RRC requires skills that are not quite do easy to assess.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 7:10 pm

  77. But I suppose why not, have every potential candidate for such a govt job go through such a course. Then there would be some sort of baseline for comparison.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 7:12 pm

  78. Just to harp on a bit more, Annette Syked ticks all the official and supposedly legal boxes for the position, but personally I’d say her personality wasn’t a good fit.

    Now that’s purely my opinion, I’m not going to claim that that has some sort of legal justification, I’m not going to appeal to some greater authority because really there isn’t.

    Sure a minister should consider specific experience but I’m doubtful that any set of legal requirements that would over- rule personal judgement would be a good idea.

    But as a consequence one would have to accept that we don’t get everything we want and when we don’t it’s not the end of democracy.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 8:56 pm

  79. Sure a minister should consider specific experience but I’m doubtful that any set of legal requirements that would over- rule personal judgement would be a good idea.

    The point is, NeilM, that there are a bunch of mandatory considerations for the Minister regarding any given individual’s suitability for the position that are set out in an Act of Parliament, and it’s very difficult to see how Devoy fits these (despite Ross’ valiant attempt to do so … brown people play sport! Asians use electricity!). If you see these as being a merely inconsequential “meh”, then that’s your call. But just don’t go crying about a Government you don’t like “breaking the law”, because you are giving up that privilege.

    And while I’m here – Shane Jones and Bill Lui. You are entirely comfortable with his actions and can’t understand why anyone would be making any criticisms of him whatsoever, given that Ministers can pick and choose how to apply the law depending on whether or not they like or dislike a person?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 28, 2013 @ 9:56 pm

  80. “mandatory considerations”

    I’m not a lawyer but I think the days are long gone since lawyers were entitled to the privilege of their own secret language,

    And to me that reads “one must consider” not that that is all to be considered.

    No doubt you could find lawyers who will argue your point of view and i could find those to argue mine. And perhaps if it went before a judge then perhaps the facts of the matter could be determined. Until then I feel I’m entitled to my point of view.

    It you’re setting the bar so low for Devoy that to fail is to be charged with fraud then most likely Key was unnecessarily down beat about her chances of doing well.

    Comment by NeilM — March 28, 2013 @ 11:48 pm

  81. NeilM,

    Right. You are not a lawyer. You don’t seem inclined to accept the views of someone who is. So this is all a bit of a waste of time, isn’t it?

    Now – Shane Jones and Bill Lui … for the third time, I assume you can’t understand why anyone would be making any criticisms of him whatsoever, given that Ministers can pick and choose how to apply the law depending on whether or not they like or dislike a person?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 29, 2013 @ 9:07 am

  82. Neill, you’ve been learning from your boy Key if you reckon the answer is to shop for an opinion to your taste. I realise you may have a perspective on the right of rulers to decree; that’s fine.

    However ‘consider’ has a reserved meaning in law. The statute is law, not the way you or I would use the language. Argue on other grounds.

    Comment by Sacha — March 29, 2013 @ 11:19 am

  83. If you were interviewing someone for this sort of job you’d ask about their previous experience of similar tasks. I look forward to hearing about how Devoy’s mediation, policy and cultural bridge-building skills played out in past.

    Comment by Sacha — March 29, 2013 @ 11:26 am

  84. AG, since the minister appears not to have given due consideration, would that raise grounds for judicial review?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — March 29, 2013 @ 4:14 pm

  85. Yes. Provided someone wants to throw some tens-of-thousands of dollars at the issue, to achieve (at most) a court order that the Minister go back and have another think about who to appoint.

    So … we’ll have to keep arguing about this in the abstract, as the chances of an actual court decision one way or the other are minimal.

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — March 29, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

  86. “If you were interviewing someone for this sort of job you’d ask about their previous experience of similar tasks. I look forward to hearing about how Devoy’s mediation, policy and cultural bridge-building skills played out in past.”

    I’m not sure there is a similar job to that of RRC. But feel free to explain how a former trade unionist and supporter of the Labour Party fitted the job description.

    Comment by Ross — April 1, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

  87. RACE RELATIONS COMMISSIONER
    KEY COMPETENCIES

    1. Relevant professional qualifications or experience
    2. Appreciation of human rights and race relations issues
    3. Leadership
    4. Relationship managements

    The successful applicants will have/be able to demonstrate:

    Relevant professional qualifications or experience
    • A tertiary qualification in a relevant discipline or comparable career experience.
    • Career experience at a senior level reflecting good judgement, integrity and impartiality.
    • Analytical skill and demonstrable clarity of thought.
    • Ability to write clearly and concisely
    • Experience in advocacy or public education.
    • Experience in governance
    • Experience in working with diverse groups and familiarity with dispute resolution processes.

    Appreciation of human rights issues
    • Understanding of the Human Rights Act 1993, the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 and New Zealand’s obligations under various United Nations conventions.
    • Understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi and its contemporary application.
    • Appreciation of issues, trends and developments in human rights and race relations arising in other countries or internationally, and of the relevance of those issues or trends in New Zealand.
    • Familiarity with issues relating to indigenous, minority and disadvantaged groups.
    • Understanding of the issues arising from the bicultural and multicultural nature of New Zealand society, including the need for different strategies and networks to communicate successfully with Māori, Pākehā and the various minorityethnic communities.
    • Familiarity with issues facing employers and employees in a diverse workforce.
    • Appreciation of the key goals of Government and their relevance to significant social issues.

    Leadership skills
    • The ability to provide vision and strategic leadership, to set clear policies and priorities, and to motivate staff.
    • An understanding of good management practices and the ability to apply these effectively to achieve organisational goals and objectives.
    • An appreciation of public sector management as set out in the Public Finance Act 1989.

    Relationship management ability
    • The ability to establish and maintain constructive relationships at all levels across a wide range both
    externally and internally.
    • The ability to work collegially with the Chief Commissioner and other Commissioners.
    • The ability to stimulate interest in, promote understanding of, and encourage action on race relations issues.
    • Professionalism and fairness in dealing with others.
    • The ability to interact effectively with the media to promote harmonious race relations.
    • Superior public speaking and presentation skills.
    • An understanding of the aspirations of a diverse range of people and organisations, including Māori, ethnic communities, central and local government, businesses, non-Government organisations, media representatives, Members of Parliament, diplomats, service organisations, advocacy groups, educational and academic institutions, religious organisations and other sectoral interest groups.

    Comment by Ross — April 1, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

  88. “You are not a lawyer. You don’t seem inclined to accept the views of someone who is. So this is all a bit of a waste of time, isn’t it?”

    Judges often don’t either so I feel I’m in good company.

    I’m no fan of Jones and I’m not against holding ministers accountable for their decisions.

    If Devoy turns out to be a poor decision then by all means hold the minister to account.

    But I’ll wait and see. I do think there’s an element of left wing entitlement going on with criticism of her.

    Comment by NeilM — April 1, 2013 @ 11:10 pm

  89. “RACE RELATIONS COMMISSIONER
    KEY COMPETENCIES”

    I remain unconvinced that there is any objective measurement of understanding, appreciation or familiarity.

    And I can think of a number of people who have such attributes who are when it comes down to it are racist.

    And “appreciation” does not necessarily imply “sympathy”. One could, and many do, appreciate the significance of the Treaty but have no sympathy for it.

    Comment by NeilM — April 1, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

  90. @NeilM,

    I’m no fan of Jones and I’m not against holding ministers accountable for their decisions.

    Oh, I get it now! When a Labour Minister appears to ignore the legal requirements in order to help out someone he (or his colleague) likes, then WE NEED ACCOUNTABILITY! Because that was the issue with Jones, wasn’t it – that his use of discretion to give Lui citizenship was very difficult to match up with the legal rules governing who should/shouldn’t be a citizen, leading to the suspicion that he exercised his discretion more because Dover Samuels was asking him to than because he thought the decision was the right one in law. But a National Party Minister? Well, it’s all just a matter of opinion what the law requires, really … I mean, how can we possibly know? So all this talk of “legality” is empty nonsense. Move on. Nothing to see here.

    I think we might need to apply Occam’s razor to NeilM’s position and reduce it to its essentials: “Blue is good, Red is bad”.

    @ Ross,

    Thanks for digging those out. Hard to see how Devoy could fit them, given her past experiences. Unless, of course, you are NeilM (who appears to be Judith Collins out of drag).

    Comment by Flashing Light — April 2, 2013 @ 9:44 am

  91. I just can’t imagine someone slipping Susan Devoy a packet of used fitties to expedite a RRC report though but maybe I’m naive.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — April 2, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  92. http://www.3news.co.nz/Finding-our-new-Race-Relations-Commissioner/tabid/367/articleID/292580/Default.aspx

    Hmmmm. Either she needs to work on her media skills, or she is going to be catapulted onto the National party list in 2014 on the grounds she knows how this government deals with the media already.

    Comment by Sanctuary — April 2, 2013 @ 10:39 am

  93. My goodness that was some drawn out “journalism”.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — April 2, 2013 @ 11:16 am

  94. I had thought that whether or not Devoy was suitable was a matter of opinion. I still think that.

    I would be very worried if any govt could write rules for this sort of job that resulted in the legal exclusion of such a wide range of people.

    Comment by NeilM — April 2, 2013 @ 11:43 am

  95. Neil, she simply lacks relevant background. And the job description has not been massaged. Deal with it.

    Comment by Sacha — April 2, 2013 @ 2:19 pm

  96. “I do think there’s an element of left wing entitlement going on with criticism of her.”

    Everyone is entitled to competent public officials, including the right.

    Comment by Sacha — April 2, 2013 @ 2:23 pm

  97. But feel free to explain how a former trade unionist and supporter of the Labour Party fitted the job description.

    Oddly Ross, you answered your own question by posting the JD.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 2, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  98. > she simply lacks relevant background

    It’s been conceded she is unlikely to become a Labour MP, nor is she a former trade unionist, which apparently makes her appointment untenable.

    Comment by Ross — April 2, 2013 @ 3:40 pm

  99. …or alternatively, she lack either an academic or professional record in the area, both of which appear to be important based on the JD you cribbed.

    Comment by Gregor W — April 2, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

  100. De Bres worked in the Department of Conservation and the PSA.

    Devoy amongst other things was on
    the board of the Auckland DHB.

    But Devoy has no experience and des Bres had.

    It’s not clear to me that that gives de Bres any advantage in terms if race relations.

    But I had no problem with how he was appointed, a degree of patronage is unavoidable in a small country, and had no problem with his performance but never thought it brilliant.

    But if these appointments are to turn into political footballs then perhaps they should be made independently, which just shifts the problem really, or even better – be elected.

    Comment by NeilM — April 2, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  101. Getting rid of the office completely would be the best solution IMO.

    Comment by TransportationDevice A7-98.1 — April 2, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

  102. > or alternatively, she lack either an academic or professional record in the area

    Or not. The JD says: “A tertiary qualification in a relevant discipline or comparable career experience.” A relevant discipline presumably covers many areas, not just one.

    I agree that the office is not a high priority for this government and nor should it be.

    Comment by Ross — April 2, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

  103. Please please please please please post something new Danyl. This became boring days ago.

    Comment by MeToo — April 2, 2013 @ 10:05 pm


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