The Herald’s gallery team ran a report card rating government Ministers a year into their jobs, and I saw some bafflement on Twitter about how anyone could possibly look at, say, Paula Bennett and think that she’s doing well in her portfolio.
It’s true that if you look at Bennett’s performance in terms of statistical indicators – unemployment keeps rising, her welfare reforms are costing $400 million dollars and the total number of beneficiaries is only down marginally since last years election, not to mention the massive data breach in her department – she’s been a total disaster. But from a purely political perspective she’s done an amazing job of selling the urgent need for her welfare reform to the public. National has comprehensively won the debate on welfare; it owns it as a political issue and that’s mostly down to Bennett.
To my mind their most impressive Minister has been Tony Ryall. If National can run a more effective health system for less money than Labour, why would anyone vote them out of government? (The answer to this question is Hekia Parata.)