So Trevor Mallard is restored to the Labour front bench and becomes opposition spokesperson on education. He’ll give Anne Tolley a tough time. Much as Ruth Richardson did for Russell Marshall between 1984 and 1987. The pre-election polls showed education as one of the few downers for the Fourth Labour Government. That is one of the reasons why David Lange took the portfolio. Phil Goff knows what he is doing. Tony Ryall and Paula Bennett are performing reasonably well in their portfolios. A teacher stouch is brewing over performance pay.
I worked for and with Ministers Brian Talboys, Phil Amos, Les Gandar, Merv Wellington, Russell Marshall, David Lange, Phil Goff, Lockwood Smith, Wyatt Creech, Nick Smith, Trevor Mallard and Steve Maharey. I disliked Amos and Nick Smith. The rest, regardless of policies, were approachable, sincere, dedicated and hard-working in an extremely demanding position.
I remember saying Maharey is the nicer man but if I had to climb a mountain I’d take Mallard every time. He had courage. He had clout. He had common sense. He gave no quarter and expected none. He got things done.
To change tack. Coll’s book on Afghanistan. What a frightening read. Both Schultz and Reagan were informed that Russia planned to pull out and its concern at a fundamentalist Islamic take-over. Their fears were dismissed, so intent was American policy on winning the Cold War. Casey, CIA chief had channelled large amounts of aid through Pakistan to fundamentalist fighters. That aid was assisted by further funds (and personnel) from affluent Saudi Arabia. The teeth that bit America had been formed with American assistance. Who knows what else is brewing still in the Pakistan/Afghanistan border? Will Obama be successful where all else have failed?