Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Not a political appointment

It was revealed this morning that John Banks - you know, the Party of One who got four (count them, four) cabinet posts - has appointed Catherine Isaac to head the committee setting up charter schools in lucky ole South Auckland. (A 1,500 bed men's prison, Brian Tamaki's promised land and charter schools? What have we done to deserve this shit-rain of terror?)  The government has back-pedalled from Banksie's announcement (the terms of reference have yet to drawn up, and the appointments are not confirmed, according to Education Minister Hekia Parata), and one wonders if National has just got its first taste of what a bully the former Mayor of Auckland can be.
The usual suspects have - with some justification in this case - complained that the appointment of Ms Isaac is political. Is it? News reports describe her as a potential leader of the ACT party, but have so far failed to mention she is also a former leader of the ACT party, under the name Catherine Judd. She was also a member of the last National government's Welfare Working Group, an un-august body whose working thesis was that beneficiaries are lazy bludgers who needed to be made poorer in order to be motivated to rejoin the workforce.  The WWG's misuse and misrepresentation of research and data stands alone in the vast pantheon of self-serving government documents. So if you were as horny to set up charter schools as John Banks is, then Catherine Isaac - a known quantity and someone the PM seems to think will appeal to women - is the perfect choice. She may not know anything about education, but it's obvious she didn't know anything about welfare, either.
So it all seems a bit rich for Ms Isaac to pop up and say that her's is not a political appointment. Pardon? It's the most blatant yet-to-be-confirmed political appointment yet from a government earning itself a reputation for political cronyism. Even richer is Ms Issac's claim that the whole ghastly charter schools experiment "is about New Zealand children". Has she not read her own welfare recommendations? They pretended to be about children, too, but are about tracking, monitoring and stigmatising their parents. Big difference.
It reminded us of something, somehow...Oh yeah. Thanks, Matt Groening.