National has sent a strong signal to the Families Commission with the appointments of Christine Rankin and Bruce Pilbrow.
Both are from the Right of the political spectrum, and could be described as social conservatives. Both opposed the repeal of Section 59 as well, which the Families Commission strongly supported.
Rankin isn't remembered particularly fondly by some sections of the public from her days at Winz, where her unorthodox management style and fondness for extravagant conferences got her much publicity.
So did her decision to sue the State Services Commission after she lost her job when Labour took office in 2000.
She's one of those people the media describes as "colourful'', which is a euphemism for controversial, and also for divisive.
Already this morning her appointment has been welcomed by Family First and Parents Inc and condemned by Child Poverty Action Group, Labour, and the Greens.
National didn't have any cross-party support for Rankin's appointment - and indeed I understand there wasn't a lot of support within National for it either.
Besides her divisive personality, there was some concern at her personal background, which has included three divorces and four marriages. Nothing wrong with that, of course - it's still fewer than Liz Taylor, and perhaps she just hadn't met the right person.
But then Taylor, as far as I know, didn't preach to others about their lives. And I think there is at least a legitimate question to be asked about whether Rankin is qualified to tell other New Zealanders how to run their families, or whether she is a pinup girl for family life.
Rankin has also been something of a fixture at protest rallies against the Electoral Finance Act and the repeal of Section 59 - the so-called "anti-smacking bill'' - where she said some pretty intemperate things, including criticising the former PM for being "childless'' and calling former Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro "a waste of space''.
In political parlance, she's a hot potato, a loose cannon, and frankly a risk. She could divide the commission and hinder its work.
Of course, a cynic might say that's the idea. National didn't want the Families Commission, remember, and had planned to abolish it. It was only the intervention of Peter Dunne, who's supporting the government and is a minister, that saved it.
Could National be planning to sabotage the commission with these latest appointments? I think that's probably going a bit far. But it certainly sends a strong message that it expects a change in temperament and tone from the commission.
Bruce Pilbrow is chief exec of Parents Inc, a conservative, Christian-based parent support group set up by Ian and Liz Grant. Parents Inc also opposed the repeal of Section 59.
Labour has criticised the appointment as "jobs for the girls'' and certainly Rankin has been a fixture at National Party events, although I don't think she is a member. There may be an element of payback for services rendered.
I'm not sure she's worth it, though. National must have known it would take some flak on this appointment, and I'm a bit surprised they thought she was worth the risk.
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