Tracy Watkins article on Hekia Parata starts with the headline:
Then it goes on to say:
When Hekia Parata was promoted to the education portfolio, she was pegged by some as a future leader, ruffling a few feathers among her colleagues.
All the ingredients were there – a rags to riches back story, professional success and powerful mentors, including Finance Minister Bill English and Prime Minister John Key, who saw in her an echo of his own rise to the top.
But she also had the all important X-factor – supreme self-assurance, an engaging personality and a guffawing laugh that could fill a room.
As blunders mounted one on top of the other in the education portfolio, however, Ms Parata’s poise deserted her. Hard questions were met with obfuscation and, when under stress, she reached for the bureaucrat’s trick of papering over the cracks with jargon.
The pressure began to tell in other, more personal, ways. Beehive insiders talk about a tense and poisonous atmosphere within her ministerial office, brought on by an increasingly demanding minister, who was out of her depth and casting around for others to blame.
The only part Tracy Watkins left out was that Hekia lobbied hard for the Education portfolio, she elbowed Tolley out of the way believing and selling the PM that she could do a better a job.
Why Hekia being a total disaster as Education Minister surprises anyone is a shock. She is an arrogant, unpleasant bully, and was called out by this blog on November 14th 2010 when Audrey Young, who should know better, wrote a hagiographic article about Hekia.
Fairfax and APN editors should start asking a few questions of their political journalists. They have really dropped the ball on this one. They should ask the following questions:
- After losing five parliamentary Executive Assistants in the first two years in parliament, do they think Hekia will front the next CTU anti 90 day advertisement?
- Are they aware that if you lose four EAs in around a year Parliamentary Services remove your right to recruit your own office staff?
- Do they know why the Maori Affairs select committee had a change of personnel? And was it because Hekia was publicly yelling at Tau Henare, who was actually in the same party as her, for those press gallery reporters who were in some doubt?
- Have they scrutinised her employment record in her career before she entered parliament?
- Are they confident she would be able to run a ministerial office, and work with departmental chief executives and staff, or would they need a special golden handshake fund for her department?
Hekia Parata might make a good person to be the MP for Mana, but being one of Bill English’s acolytes and having a rotating door on staff at a rate equal to or better than McCully doesn’t make her a good prospect for cabinet.
There are better choices and ones who would be more effective.
The omnishambles that has been Hekia’s tenure as minister of education was clearly predictable. The questions above should have alerted enough the most bovine journalistic intellect to the problems Hekia would face.
The only real question for John Key is will he let someone he would have instantly fired at Merrill Lynch continue to pull him down in the polls?