Blast! I was going to advance a theory over the appointment of Christine Rankin. That it was a stalking horse for the repeal of the so-called anti-smacking legislation. Vernon Small’s column in the Dominion Post this morning put forward the same argument. Why else would National appoint such a controversial, four-times-married, high-spending figure to the Families Commission; especially when it would alienate political allies.
That legislation was an albatross around Labour at the last election. It had become identified as their cause despite it not being a bill advanced by them and was passed with the support of John Key and National.
Let me be quite clear. I supported the legislation. But I’m sure it was a downer for the Clark government. It’s repeal would appeal to a considerable number of people.
Maybe the conspiracy theory is wrong. The reason could be a mere close association between Paula Bennett and Rankin. Sometimes the wrong thing is done for the right reason.
Whatever the cause the decision is going to have considerable political impact. Helen Clark enjoyed early on a honeymoon period. As has John Key who has shown astute sure-footedness so far.
Has popular support for Key’s government reached full tide? It’s not just Rankin. The Waterview Road decision will alienate others. As will the Auckland supercity implementation. Melissa Lee’s silly comments about the new motorway diverting criminals from Mt Albert won’t help. A bleak budget looms. The recession provides an excuse for retrenchment but there will be electoral consequences.