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Editorial: An idea whose time has come – Editorials – The Dominion Post

Watch out Master Faaaraaaaar, the Apprentice is growing strong.

The DomPost must have had to swallow a little pride and when Tane and his fellow labour sponsored bloggers get up this morning and read the paper they will spit their Hubbards across the table.

Here is their editorial…oh and of curse it was a “inventive blogger” and member of the VRWC that came up with the “Idea whose time has come”.

Alas, the online auction for an honorary consulship has been revealed to be the work of an inventive blogger rather than a Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry initiative, The Dominion Post says.

The bidders who offered half a million dollars, Holden utes and assignations with supermodels in exchange for the position will instead have to earn the good opinion of Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters if they wish to add the title honorary consul to their letterheads. The auction was pulled by Trade Me after receiving “a number of complaints” and because the seller was unable to deliver the item listed.

But this is an idea whose time has come. And it is one that should be applied to a wider range of positions than just honorary consulships. Instead of assigning plum diplomatic posts to politicians who fancy a spot of OE before heading off to tend the flower beds and write indignant letters to the local newspaper, they should be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Surplus cabinet positions should also be put under the hammer. Everybody knows there is barely enough work for 15 ministers. The remaining ones should be flogged off, and so should national honours.

Who knows how much Jonathan Hunt or Russell Marshall or their National predecessors Paul East or John Collinge might have been prepared to bid for the entree to London society that is provided by being appointed high commissioner to the United Kingdom and ambassador to Ireland. Who knows what value Mr Hunt attached to being appointed to the Order of New Zealand alongside the likes of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the late Sir Edmund Hillary. An auction might have recouped the cost of the taxi fares Mr Hunt ran up during his 39 years in Parliament, though the bidding would have to have been fierce, given that he spent $29,000 in one year alone.

Of course, there are those who say an informal auction has long existed for honours and that overseas appointments have more to do with services to political parties and the need to lever time-servers out of Parliament’s leather seats than the country’s diplomatic needs.

But a formal auction would be manifestly superior. Not only would it widen the pool of bidders and direct funds to the consolidated account rather than party coffers, it would also avoid the sort of confusion that now hovers over the most recent Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn. Did he get the honour because he gave $7.5 million to Auckland University’s new business school or because he gave the Labour Party $500,000 and loaned it a further $100,000?

An auction would also avoid the speculation that now surrounds Mr Glenn’s interest in being appointed honorary consul to Monaco. Was he responsible for the large anonymous donation NZ First president Dail Jones says appeared in the party’s bank account late last year but that Mr Peters says was never made? He’s not saying. In an open, transparent system there would be no need for confusion or obfuscation. Bidders could make known their identities and would receive the heartfelt thanks of the populace, spared the cost of footing at least part of the Government’s bill.

Let the bidding commence.

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