No Political Independence in Upton Appointment

13 April 2017

New Zealand First has major issues with Simon Upton being the next Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Deputy Leader Ron Mark.

“How can we accept a re-tread who’s been a National Party Member of Parliament for 19 years, a cabinet minister who in the pantheon of cabinet ministers, is right up there with Dr Nick Smith.

“This role should remain politically independent, but that has been ignored by the government and the Labour and Green Parties.

“What we need as the next Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is not a previous Young Nationals chairman.

“Can anyone explain to New Zealanders why Mr Upton, a Rhodes Scholar with degrees in English literature, music, law and a masters in political philosophy, is suddenly qualified for this most important role?

“The three previous commissioners have all been highly qualified scientists devoid of political entanglements.

“Not Mr Upton who is donkey deep inside National’s old boy’s beltway network.

“Look at the past Commissioners - Dr Helen Hughes, a Fulbright scholar and expert on botany; Dr Morgan Williams, a hugely respected ecologist with a Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries background and then there is Dr Jan Wright – a physicist with a doctorate from the John F Kennedy School of Government.

“To be fair we have not always agreed with the Commissioner but these were all experts with no agenda.  They shared two things; legitimacy and integrity.

“Then you come to Simon Upton who was regarded as the Dr Nick Smith of his day.  An ideologue with little political nous who was ever so accident prone in whatever portfolio he touched.

“Mr Upton entered Parliament in 1981 as the MP for Waikato, aged 23.  He left it 19 years later and did what all red-blooded Kiwis do by moving to France. 

“Like many bright young things he was no Pitt the Younger but had an arrogance that comes from a lack of life skills and a ton of theory.

“At the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nothing he authored was very convincing because he had swapped one beltway for another more cosmopolitan one.

“So what is Mr Upton’s track record?  It is shameful all other parties rolled over and allowed their tummies to be tickled.  Pepsi and Coke, nothing’s new.

“Mr Upton was responsible for messing up the Resource Management Act including the removal of private property rights from the original 1989 Resource Management Bill.  The RMA is unloved by many being a bureaucratic hydra and Mr Upton was its midwife.

“Mr Upton, not content with stuffing up our planning system, set the groundwork for the Kyoto Protocol that sees taxpayers paying close to quarter of a billion dollars to achieve nothing.

“He also broke up the legendarily DSIR into competing Crown Research Institutes that now scrap over smaller and smaller pieces of the research pie. 

“We mustn’t forget he was one of the most useless Ministers of Health, ever.  He showed a cold-heart over compensation for the ‘bad blood’ transfusions and even introduced cash registers into hospitals.

“Yet we guess this gives Dr Smith a lot of hope that one day, even he could become the PCE because frankly New Zealand First is incredulous about this appointment.

“We’re even more stunned by every other party accepting it.

“This sets a terrible precedent for a role that demands an authoritative respected voice.  Our advice to Mr Upton is to sign his contract in pencil and to not unpack.  There is no way we will accept this appointment standing when in government,” says Mr Mark.