Finlayson tops Herald’s ministerial rankings

The Attorney General, Minister for Treaty Negotiations and now acting Minister of Labour, Chris Finlayson is number one in the NZ Herald’s ministerial rankings.

Chris Finlayson has emerged as one of John Key’s most valuable ministers in National’s second term. He has scored the highest rating of all ministers in my report card on the Executive prepared with colleagues in the Herald press gallery team. . .

Mr Finlayson is Attorney-General and Treaty Negotiations Minister. He is also Labour Minister since Kate Wilkinson resigned after the royal commission’s damning report into the Pike River disaster.

On the face of it, that may not seem a natural fit – and it may be just a temporary appointment until the next reshuffle. But Mr Finlayson’s skill set may be the right one to keep the job for the rest of the term. He gets results. He has a big intellect and has a good head for detail. But he is also emotionally intelligent, and was a good choice to send to the West Coast to discuss the report with the Pike River families.

His achievements in Treaty Negotiations are the most notable. Who would have imagined two years ago the Government concluding a deal with Tuhoe?

I think this is well deserved.  He doesn’t make a fuss but gets things done. The number of Treaty negotiations successfully concluded is in deed notable

Health Minister Tony Ryall and Justice Minister Judith Collins scored highly as well. The Opposition has been able to inflict few dents on the Government in health, such is Mr Ryall’s control after four years in the portfolio. Labour has had three spokespeople over four years. . .

At the other end of the ranking, education Minister Hekia Parata scored only 3.

The education portfolio is always a tough one. That it is tougher for National ministers in part shows the difficulty of effecting change in the face of strong unions which are ideologically opposed to the party regardless of the policy.

In spite of that and opposition from teacher unions at every step,the Minister has kept an unrelenting and sorely needed focus on improving standards, particularly for the long tail of underachievers.

Her work appears to have been handicapped at times by the Ministry of Education which seems to have learned nothing from the debacle over school closures under Trevor Mallard in the last Labour government’s first term.

School closure is always emotionally fraught. In Christchurch in the wake of earthquakes there was even more need for great care. The announcement and some really silly suggestions, such as merging Avonside and Christchurch Girls’, and Shirley and Christchurch Boys’ was, as Hekia Parata herself says crazy.

The loss of more than 9,000 pupils and earthquake damage to school property necessitated change, and major change at that, but a Ministry which handled such a sensitive issue so badly and says it didn’t give schools all the information because it was too complex needs major surgery.

The Herald’s rank (in ministerial order) is:

John Key – 7, Prime Minister, Tourism, SIS, GCSB

Bill English – 8, Finance

Gerry Brownlee – 7.5, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Transport

Steven Joyce – 7, Economic Development

Judith Collins – 8.5, Justice, ACC

Tony Ryall – 8.5, Health, State-owned Enterprises

Hekia Parata – 3, Education

Chris Finlayson – 9,Attorney General, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Labour

Paula Bennett – 7, Social Development

David Carter – 8, Primary Industries, Local Government

Murray McCully – 7, Foreign Affairs

Anne Tolley – 7, Police, Corrections

Jonathan Coleman – 8, Defence, State Services

Tim Groser – 8, Trade, Climate Change issues

Phil Heatley – 5, Housing, Energy and Resources

Kate Wilkinson – 4, Conservation, Food Safety

Nathan Guy – 6, Immigration, Veteran’s Affairs, Associate Primary Industries

Craig Foss – 6, Commerce, Broadcasting

Amy Adams – 7, Environment, Communication and Information Technology

Chris Tremain – 6, Internal Affairs

Maurice Williamson – 7, Building, Customs, Land Information

Jo Goodhew – 6, Senior Citizens, Women’s Affairs

Chester Borrows – 6, Courts, Associate Justice, Associate Social Development

Simon Bridges – 7, Consumer Affairs, Associate Climate Change, Associate Transport

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