Life is not always easy for the Beehive staffer. Risks of the job include finger-cramps, public humiliation, and quite frequently, bouts of mental retardation. While the cut and thrust of representing relatively competent ministers with actual portfolios, such as David Cunliffe, Annette King, and Phil Goff must have their respective merits, the life of one of the lesser spin doctors must be particularly gruelling.
Take Judith Tizard's office, for example. In seven years of ministerial office, Tizard has never been promoted to Cabinet. She is the first ever Associate Minister for Arts and Culture. Her position of "Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Auckland Issues" provides the excellent ruse to travel with the PM on the latter's domestic and international itinerary.
It's all a bloody shame, really. With Tizard's excellent breeding--her father a deputy prime minister and Finance Minister, who last distinguished himself in 1989, when as Defence Minister, he labelled the recently-deceased Japanese Emperor Hirohito a "war criminal"; and mother a mayor, governor-general, and perhaps most importantly, an entertaining panellist on Beauty and the Beast--it's a shame that so little has become of Judith Tizard.
Judith Tizard is Helen Clark's closest personal friend. While Tizard no longer resides at Premier House (she has obtained a separate taxpayer-funded dwelling in Thorndon), Tizard was Clark's electorate secretary for three years prior to entering Parliament. While working for Clark, Tizard also had the opportunity to finally finish her Bachelor of Arts in History. Of course, it did take eleven years to complete, which probably explains Tizard's immaculate modesty, generosity towards others, and her unwavering commitment to listening to both points of view.
What is harder to explain, however, is this post from one of Tizard's ministerial staffers yesterday. Since Tizard's office is staffed by a rather large number of people--at least seven press secretaries in the last few years--it's not easy tracking down who wrote it. But it deserves special attention. The comment reads:
Office of the Hon Judith Tizard said...
Could you please correct the entry for Judith Tizard as follows:
- IP lists Judith Tizard as "Auckland councilor" [sic]
- Judith served on the Auckland Electric Power Board (1977-1983), and the Auckland Regional Councillor for Panmure (1988-91);
- When Parliament is sitting, Judith resides in ministerial housing in Wellington - not at Premier House;
- Judith is Patron of 11 organisations including the Mt Wellington Women's Bowling Club and the Auckland Brass Band. She is an Honorary member of the Otahuhu & District RSA, and Honorary Vice-President of the Otahuhu & District Highland Pipe Band.
My response was:
Dear office of the hon judith tizard:
No correction necessarily. You have made the correction here. I'm not sure what your point is, precisely, but I can tell you this. We do not yet live in a society where ministerial offices dictate the tone and content of what is said about them.
Now go and do some bloody work. No doubt Ministerial Services pays you a bloody whopping great salary for you to do something somewhat more productive than act as editor of my blog.