Brownlee: 'The Press is the enemy'

Last updated 07:49 03/12/2012
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STACY SQUIRES

BRICKS AND BOUQUETS: Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee is amongst the best-performing ministers while Education Minister Hekia Parata, centre, is amongst the worst. They appeared with Education Secretary Lesley Longstone to announce proposals for closing and merging Canterbury schools.

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The Press is the "enemy" of Christchurch's recovery, says Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

During a robust interview about zoning decisions yesterday, Brownlee said: "We're getting into the sort of zone of, frankly, The Press again being the enemy of recovery.

"Happy for you to put that in the paper because I know a lot of people think it," he said.

Brownlee has said previously he does not read The Press.

His comments came as political newsletter the Trans Tasman named Brownlee one of the best performing government ministers and Education Minister Hekia Parata as one of the worst.

The Ilam MP rated 7.5 out of 10, one of the best in Parliament, but fell from his 2011 rating of nine out of 10 and the politician of the year gong.

Trans Tasman observed the pressure of the Christchurch rebuild was starting to tell, but that Brownlee had "one of the most difficult jobs in Cabinet".

Education Minister Hekia Parata was the standout worst performer in Cabinet, dropping from 6.5 out of 10 in 2011 to just two after the botched plan to revamp Christchurch schools and the U-turn on smaller class sizes.

She had "moved past the point of her competence . . . tough and smart, but not politically astute".

POLITICIAN OF THE YEAR

Trans Tasman went on to name Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson politician of the year, beating off challenges from Prime Minister John Key and Green co-leader Russel Norman.

The judges said Finlayson, who is also Treaty of Waitangi negotiations minister, had "given away a national park to Maori, and no-one seems to mind much. That's pretty good going".

They gave him eight out of 10 for his performance this year - the same as Key and Norman - noting "[Norman's] disdain for his political opponents is palpable - one of the sharpest debaters in Parliament".

His increasing stature as a politician and member of the inner circle was evident when Key gave him responsibility for the Labour portfolio when Kate Wilkinson stepped down after the Pike River royal commission.

After a year of stumbles and "brain fades", Key slipped from nine, to eight out of 10.

His Government is still riding high in the polls, although he must "improve political management and start seeming like he enjoys the job next year", Trans Tasman said.

Dr Norman had kept the Greens higher in the polls now than on election night and had widened the policy platform far beyond "greenie" issues.

He "outclassed [Labour's] David Shearer as an opposition leader . . . As John Key said, 'Russel Norman is eating David Shearer's lunch'."

In rankings that leaned heavily in favour of National, Trans Tasman rated 10 Cabinet ministers ahead of the best rated Labour front-bench MPs, David Parker and Phil Goff, who each scored 6.5 out of 10.

The only other opposition MP to get a high score was NZ First leader Winston Peters on seven.

Paula Bennett rose and was "greatly admired as the former beneficiary cracking down on welfare recipients", while Foreign Minister Murray McCully's role in the botched reform of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry saw his score go from eight to 6.5 out of ten.

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Except for Peters, all the NZ First MPs scored less than five.

Of the sitting National MPs from last year who returned, 20 boosted their score, 18 went down, and 11 stayed the same.

In Labour's ranks nine boosted their score, 12 went down and eight stayed the same.

FIVE OF THE BEST

Christopher Finlayson: 8/10 "Has made big strides this year as one of the most effective ministers."

Russel Norman: 8/10 "Looks and sounds like the leader of a much larger, more mainstream party."

John Key: 8/10 "The PM has a party united behind him and his policies (unlike his opponents)."

Bill English: 7.5/10 "Supplied the ballast to complement the effervescent Key in the coalition."

Gerry Brownlee: 7.5/10 "Has one of the most difficult jobs in Cabinet."

FIVE OF THE WORST

John Banks: 0/10 "Even if National did not run against him in Epsom again he would still lose."

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (National list): 1/10 "There to make up the numbers at this stage."

Rajan Prasad (Labour list): 1/10 "His presence in Parliament remains a mystery, but he seems to enjoy it."

Hekia Parata: 2/10 "Had difficulty answering questions when they moved off her prepared script."

Catherine Delahunty (Green list): 2/10 "A nice, well- intentioned but slightly barmy hippie."

- Fairfax Media

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