Sharks circle Rankin & Bennett

00:21, Aug 28 2009

Is there any way the Government can surgically sew Christine Rankin's lips together? No sooner does it get over the Richard Worth saga than the Rankin issue reappears, as it always would do in the run up to the smacking referendum.

What was she thinking, giving an interview on the referendum to Investigate  magazine - a publication that has been a shortcut to oblivion for several other political figures before? 

John Key says he won't tolerate his newest Families Commissioner campaigning against the legislation as the Families Commission's position is to support the 2007 law.

That would be a sustainable position if Rankin had not (a) already widely stated her opposition to the law, (b) reiterated that now in Investigate, (c) been listed as a speaker at a launch of a pro-smacking campaign - which organisers say was a 'mistake' on their part, and (d) taken the role of chief executive of the Family and Children Trust - an organisation that actively opposes the law.

Indeed the Family and Children Trust spokesperson is in the media saying Rankin is "right behind the campaign."

Is there any way the Government can surgically sew Christine Rankin's lips together? No sooner does it get over the Richard Worth saga than the Rankin issue reappears, as it always would do in the run up to the smacking referendum.

What was she thinking, giving an interview on the referendum to Investigate  magazine - a publication that has been a shortcut to oblivion for several other political figures before? 

John Key says he won't tolerate his newest Families Commissioner campaigning against the legislation as the Families Commission's position is to support the 2007 law.

That would be a sustainable position if Rankin had not (a) already widely stated her opposition to the law, (b) reiterated that now in Investigate, (c) been listed as a speaker at a launch of a pro-smacking campaign - which organisers say was a 'mistake' on their part, and (d) taken the role of chief executive of the Family and Children Trust - an organisation that actively opposes the law.

Indeed the Family and Children Trust spokesperson is in the media saying Rankin is "right behind the campaign."

Advertisement

We now have the ludicrous position where a Families Commissioner appears to run a shadow campaign by proxy, through surrogates, completely contrary to Families Commission Policy.

Even sillier is Social Development Minister Paula Bennett's assertion that Rankin was only voicing a personal opinion. "I think it's pretty clear that Christine Rankin was speaking as Christine Rankin and not as Families Commissioner," Bennett finds that "acceptable".

No it's not.

Could the State Services Commissioner come out and say the public service sucked and should be disbanded but that was just a personal opinion?

Could a Race Relations Commissioner go into the media and say he personally thought Adolf Hitler had it right but he just had bad PR?

Could the Chief Censor come out and say, personally, he was addicted to porn and there should be more of it?

If you hold a government office anything you say automatically carries the mana of your position, regardless of whether you are talking in a "personal" capacity or as an office holder.

The Rankin appointment was a gift to the sharks of the media pack. Rankin was trailing blood in the water from the moment she was given the job and Paula Bennett better keep a look out for Jaws herself.

It was a dumb appointment. Why doesn't the Government just face up to that fact and terminate her?

Okay, Rankin has proven to be litigious in employment matters in the past but, whatever the cost, there is something to be said for a government saying: "Sorry, made a mistake, not the best choice, we have corrected the error and we are moving on with the issues that really matter."

The danger is, as the referendum campaign picks up that Rankin will do something else and the media feeding frenzy will get out of the Government's control.

The media targeted Paula Bennett from the start and she could be easily the next ministerial casualty if there is one more mistake (and there will be).

With the Investigate story the Government missed a golden opportunity to rid itself of the unexploded Rankin bomb and now John Key is being steadily forced into positions over her that become harder and harder to justify.

The business of government is difficult enough without enduring self-inflicted wounds.

AAP