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Kerre Woodham: Does the Deputy PM matter anymore?

Author
Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 1:22PM
Photo / Getty
Photo / Getty

Kerre Woodham: Does the Deputy PM matter anymore?

Author
Kerre Woodham,
Publish Date
Wed, 22 Nov 2023, 1:22PM

So it appears the policy has been hammered out, and it's just a matter of dealing with the positions within the new government. But when you're dealing with politicians and egos, it's no simple process.  

Some of the posts surely are obvious. Minister for Agriculture must be Andrew Hoggard, former Federated Farmer's head. Mark Mitchell for police, he's been in training for that job his whole working life. Erica Stanford for education. Even the most vainglorious of party leaders must acknowledge the right people should get the right job for the good of the country.  

But the baubles of office are glittery and shiny and tempting and if you've had them once, you'd want them. So, who will be Deputy Prime Minister? According to Christopher Luxon, that's a job that's largely a job in name only. 

“Well, look, I mean, it's largely a ceremonial role. There's a lot of talk about it, but it's a ceremonial role to actually fill in for when I'm incapacitated, away or, or not in the House. And so, you know, that's the that's how it's set up under our New Zealand system, largely ceremonial and for when I'm not there.” 

If that doesn't sound like a man who's trying to prepare the country for Deputy Winston, I don't know what does. Initially, I took umbrage at his stance that being a Deputy Prime Minister is a largely ceremonial role. I have known deputy prime ministers in the past and they have worked jolly hard. But as one of the hardest working former deputy prime ministers said on Heather's show last night, times have changed. 

“We are in a different era now. I was a deputy when there was one party. Under MMP, of course, deputies are liable to be from other parties, which in fact means their role will be different. But otherwise, in a single party system, you're there to do the things that your leader, your Prime Minister, just doesn't do. Meet the people he doesn't want to meet, go to the places he hasn't got time to go to. “ 

That, of course was Sir Don McKinnon, who would have been one of the best deputy prime ministers we've seen.  

So, your thoughts, if you're a political beast. Does the role of Deputy Prime Minister matter in this MMP era or matter as much as it used to matter? Who should get it? And surely, as with any team, you pick the best person for the position. It should not be a matter of placating egos, but I know up to a point it will have to be, given the nature of those who enter into politics.  

You've got to have a certain amount of ego to put yourself out there and say pick me, I’m the best person for the job. The country is in too much of a state not to take government and governance seriously. We need the best people in the right positions working for us all. They are public servants. They are in their jobs at the whim of the voters, and they are here to work for us.  

Some of them might need to be reminded of that. 

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