Mike's Minute: Paula Bennett's gone and it's a sad, shabby end to her career

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Jun 2020, 9:26AM

Mike's Minute: Paula Bennett's gone and it's a sad, shabby end to her career

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 30 Jun 2020, 9:26AM

COMMENT:

Paula Bennett is all that's wrong with politics. Mind you, I said the same thing about Dame Jenny Shipley at the time.

Politics as a profession, as a means of making large decisions, and running countries leaves a tremendous amount to be desired. It's not like most jobs where recruiting is high quality, expectations are high quality, those who work hard and are driven and talented generally end up doing what they want with a decent number of people benefiting because of it.

Up until she got rolled, Bennett was potentially the Deputy Prime Minister, a senior Cabinet minister, and the chair of the upcoming election campaign for the National Party. After she got rolled, she is on her way out, over it, clearly aggrieved - and looking for a new life and a new start.

Nothing wrong with that, if the latter part of that is arrived at by yourself. You make your contribution, you have set goals, and you move on to new and fresh fields.

But that wasn't the plan. And it is so rarely the plan in politics because politics is hopelessly broken, and it mostly ends badly.

Dame Jenny Shipley, I distinctly remember, was the Prime Minister who lost the 1999 election. Not really because she wasn't up to much, but because the coalition which involved a bloke called Winston Peters had fallen apart, taken Jim Bolger with it and generally left the public with a desire for change.

One of the outworkings of that was Shipley was rolled and sent to the backbenches. Shortly after, she quit and moved back to the real world.

But the skills, experience and acumen that got her to the top didn't vanish with the election defeat, the same way what Bennett offered didn't vanish because Todd Muller came along. You don't go from being a leader to useless on a vote.

But sadly that appears to be the way politics is played and as a result you lose valuable talent.

The game relies on too many variables. It's not enough to be good, you have to be hellishly lucky as well. It has to be the right time, there have to be any number of compromises, trade offs, deals done, and you throw all of that in the great big pot of aspiration, and see what pops out at the end.

It's why people like Sir Geoffrey Palmer, David Cunliffe and Sir Bill English get to be leaders. It's not because they stand out or are obvious choices - they are compromises, last people standing, the only ones we can all agree on in difficult times.

But Bennett is of genuine value and use to her party, and she's now lost to them.

She won't miss them as much as they'll miss her. She will go on to do decent stuff and recover her normality.

But it's a shabby sad way to wrap 15 years, and like many before her she deserves a better conclusion.