John Allen

Murray McCully’s MFAT bungle slowly being diffused

Alleged attempted rapist Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail and his alleged victim Tania Billingsley will be thrilled to know that by the time it comes to taking responsibility for the diplomatic stuff up that allowed  Rizalman to return to Malaysia, all those that are capable of being held responsible have already fled, been moved on or “promoted” out of harm’s way.

A damning report into the bungling of a diplomatic incident involving a Malaysian accused of attempted rape is set to be withheld until at least early next year.

Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade came under heavy fire earlier this year when they apparently left Malaysian counterparts with the impression that New Zealand was comfortable with a defence attache facing an attempted rape charge refusing to waive diplomatic immunity and facing justice at home.

In July, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced former Treasury secretary John Whitehead would head an inquiry into events which “undermined public confidence” in Mfat.

In May, Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail, who worked at the Malaysian High Commission in Brooklyn in Wellington, was allowed to leave New Zealand despite being arrested and charged with the attempted rape of a Wellington woman in her home.

New Zealand requested the Malaysians waive diplomatic immunity, but this was rejected after a series of meetings between Malaysian diplomats and Mfat’s protocol division.

A complete “draft” report is being held up until next year as it is feared it may affect the active legal action against Muhammad Rizalman bin Ismail.  The extra time this allows is being used constructively by those in the line of fire by getting well out of the way.   Read more »

Nothing to be sorry for

Tania Billingsley demanded an apology from John Key in her political hit job against the government, apparently he looked bored and that outraged her.

She won’t be getting an apology from John Key though, and why should he?

Prime Minister John Key says he will not personally apologise to the victim of an alleged sexual attack involving a Malaysian diplomat, after she accused him of appearing bored and unconcerned with her case.

It was the first time Mr Key has responded to criticism by Wellington woman Tania Billingsley, who waived name suppression earlier this month in order to speak out on her case.

In a television interview, Ms Billingsley panned the Government for allowing Muhammed Rizalman bin Ismail to leave New Zealand claiming diplomatic immunity, after he allegedly attacked her in her Brooklyn home in May.

She also said Mr Key had appeared unconcerned with her case.

“I just remember the first, the very first thing I watched on it, and just seeing him looking bored and annoyed at having to be talking about it and just saying there’s nothing that we can do pretty much; ‘Oh it sucks but it is what it is’,” she told TV3’s3rd Degree.

Asked today whether he would personally apologise to Ms Billingsley, Mr Key said: “I think that’s been made clear by the various different authorities.

“What’s far more important now is that the independent inquiry that’s been established and will be run by John Whitehead actually gets to the bottom of all of the unanswered questions.”

Read more »

John Allen and the other weasels in MFaT should be sacked

Murray McCully has received an apology from the head of MFaT for the stuff up of his weasels inside the ministry who stuffed up.

Bizarrely McCully didn’t accept his resignation. He should have.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs head John Allen offered to resign over his ministry’s mishandling of the case of a Malaysian diplomat who left the country after an alleged attempt to rape a Wellington woman.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully declined the offer from Mr Allen but said he was angry about his officials’ mistakes, which led to public embarrassment for the minister and Prime Minister John Key.

The debacle had undermined his confidence in the ministry’s ability to carry out its duties.

The extent of the miscommunication within the ministry became apparent yesterday as Mr Allen revealed he knew nothing about the charges against Malaysian diplomat Muhammed Rizalman Bin Ismail until Friday – seven weeks after police arrested him.

Mr McCully did not know Ismail had left the country with diplomatic immunity until this date, when the Herald on Sunday began asking questions about it.

Malaysian officials were also given mixed messages by ministry officials which led them to believe New Zealand agreed to his repatriation in Malaysia. Read more »

Dodgy CV Cheat run out of town

Good news, isn’t it?  Sadly, it’s not David Cunliffe, but CV embellisher extraordinaire Michael Vukcevic.

It seems that the difference to keeping your job and losing it comes down to the quality of spin doctor you employ.  Brown and Cunliffe got their money’s worth, whereas Vukcevic got Vukd.

The Deputy Chairman of the NZ Middle East Business Council, Mr Stewart Germann, announced today that the Council had accepted the resignation of Michael Vukcevic from its Executive Committee effective immediately.

Mr Germann said he would take over as Chairman until the next AGM. “Mr Vukcevic has been an energetic and committed participant of the Council during his more than six years of involvement, and was in fact a founding member of the organisation,” he said.   Read more »

Dodgy CV leads to shameless spin which leads to more questions

Yesterday both major news outlets ran stories of a dodgy CV used by the former CEO of Baldwins, Michael Vukcevic. It is hugely ironic too that Michael Vukcevic was previously head of anti-corruption group Transparency International.

Phil Kitchin at the Dompost wrote:

The chairman of an influential business council with close links to the Government’s bid for a Middle East free trade agreement is a CV fraudster.

Fairfax NZ can reveal that Michael Vukcevic – head of the Auckland-based Middle East Business Council – falsely claimed to have a law degree from Victoria University.

Mr Vukcevic was also a director of anti-corruption agency Transparency International when he lied in his successful bid for the top New Zealand job at multinational law and patent firm, Baldwins.

The fraud will embarrass the firm, which was last year a finalist in the New Zealand Law Awards for a second year in a row.

It will also embarrass the Government because of the ties between the council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NZ Trade and Enterprise.

As chair of the Middle East council, Mr Vukcevic rubs shoulders with powerful figures from MFAT – including Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.

The council’s current executive includes former Young Nats president Daniel Fielding, and the vice-chairman is Auckland lawyer Stewart Germann. Former National Party president Michelle Boag advises the executive.  Read more »

Conspiracy Theories abound, nearly all feature dodgy Catholic ratbags

Barbie Latza Nadeau at The Daily Beast writes about all the conspiracy theories that are flying around about Pope Benedict resigning. One thing is in common with a few of them…they feature dodgy catholic ratbags:

While the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal was obviously a huge weight on the pope’s shoulders, Vatican watchers say it was actually the VatiLeaks butler saga and allegations of impropriety at the Vatican Bank that played more important roles in his resignation. “Benedict may not have quit because of the pedophilia scandals or any other specific controversy,” says Vatican expert John Allen. “But it’s hard to believe they didn’t play a role, at least as background.”

Financial impropiety, and dirty filthy pedo priests…then there are the health scare rumours:  Read more »

McCully needs to harden up

Why doesn’t McCully back John Allen and make a case for reducing the number of overpaid, useless bludgers who return bugger all for New Zealand. And why doesn’t he get the market to set the rate for MFAT bureaucrats. If they want to work in foreign affairs but don’t like getting their perks cut they should work for another foreign affairs agency.

Foreign Affairs boss John Allen may be on a collision course with the Government after fresh disquiet among ministry staff that changes to a controversial restructuring plan do not go far enough.
In a letter to staff, leaked to Fairfax, Mr Allen confirms he has again pushed back the deadline for final decisions after a backlash over proposals to make 600 staff reapply for roles, slash overseas living allowances, outsource consular services, slash remuneration for some staff depending on their positions, and make hundreds of jobs redundant.

He has backed down on several proposals, including roughly halving the number of positions to be axed, after Foreign Minister Murray McCully delivered a thinly veiled warning that some of his proposals went too far, while signalling that others did not go far enough to shift the ministry’s strategic focus in line with Government policy.

But after an extraordinary gathering of about 40 heads of mission for crisis talks in Wellington this month, Mr Allen looks set to proceed with some of the more contentious changes, while making other changes that have caused fresh unease among staff.

It is understood some have gone over the top of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry bosses and approached senior government ministers directly over their concern that the exodus of top staff already underway will only accelerate now that it appears Mr Allen is determined to stick with parts of his controversial plan.

Only Labour could complain about axing bureaucrats

Murray McCully is cutting the bloat out of MFaT:

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has confirmed it is cutting around 300 staff as Finance Minister Bill English says it’s crunch time for the public sector.

MFAT’s chief executive John Allen this afternoon said it would be cutting 305 staff.

The news came as English said Kiwis were about to see the public service change.

English said the Government had last year told public sector chief executives to look at their own operations and ”tell us how they could be improved to deliver better services with little or no new money”.

”We gave them time to do that. We’re now at that point. That means we’ll see quite a change in how public services are delivered.”

Allen said 600 MFAT staff would have to reapply for their jobs in new specialist roles. The ministry has 1340 staff, half of which are offshore

He also confirmed changes to remuneration including offshore allowances. Staff would be asked to make a “nominal contribution” to their living costs overseas.

Only Labour could complain about axing bureaucrats:

Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Phil Goff said the MFAT’s cuts were disastrous at a time when New Zealand’s national interests were at risk from an unstable world.

Hmmm…I seem to remember a certain Prime Minister telling us we lived in a benign strategic environment. Has something changed. But the real question that needs to be asked of Phil Goff is “If not now then when would be a good time to cut staff?”

Bureaucrat of the Week

John Allen hasn’t mentioned bullshit towers but he might be thinking about bullshit missions in places where we don’t need them.

Restructuring at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in which more than 200 jobs or a fifth of its staff are likely to go and some overseas posts closed, is expected to be detailed shortly, the Herald understands.

Plans to cut about 200 of about 900 staff at the ministry were revealed in the State Services Commission’s report on the Government “cap” on public service numbers in September last year.

Chief executive John Allen is understood to have indicated to staff he expects more than 200 jobs to go as the ministry is restructured under Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully’s plan to create “a leaner, more adaptable organisation, better able to meet New Zealand’s future needs”.

While he is at it perhaps he might like to look at New Zealand’s most expensive flat.