MFAT’s prestige is expected to bloom again, now the ministry has gone to Seed

Chris  Seed  has been  confirmed  as  Secretary  of  Foreign Affairs  & Trade,  as Point of Order   earlier foreshadowed.  An experienced diplomat, he succeeds  Brook Barrington  who  the State Services  Commission named as CEO of the  Department of  Prime Minister &  Cabinet.

Seed,  who  recently  returned to NZ  after  serving  a  five-year term  as High Commissioner to  Canberra,   is  expected  to   work  closely   with  Foreign  Minister   Winston Peters on his Pacific Reset   policies.

His  appointment  is  understood  to  have been  extremely  well received  by  senior staff  in MFAT, whose  morale  was  severely bruised    during the era of  John Allen   as  CEO.     It is  known  that Peters   has been   keen  to  return  MFAT   to  the   slot   it  enjoyed   before the Allen era    as one of the  key  sources of   advice  to  Cabinet, not  just  on   foreign and trade  policies but  in other   areas  of   national  security. Continue reading “MFAT’s prestige is expected to bloom again, now the ministry has gone to Seed”

Two outstanding women are appointed to top public service jobs

Outside  the  Wellington  Beltway,  not  much   attention  has been paid to  two key appointments in the state sector.   Both  posts  go to   outstanding  women  leaders  who  for  several  years  have  fulfilled  the  early  promise they  showed  in the public service.

After  a successful  career at the Ministry of  Foreign Affairs and Trade,  where   she has  been  serving Deputy Secretary, Multilateral and Legal Affairs Group,  Bernadette  Cavanagh  will  take over as  CEO  of  the  Ministry of Culture & Heritage  from February 1.  There   had been  speculation   Cavanagh, a   daughter of   former  PM  Jim Bolger,   could be a  candidate to  succeed  Brook Barrington as head of  MFAT  when  he  moves over to the DPMC.

The  other  key  appointment  by State Sector Commissioner  Peter Hughes   is to the  post of Comptroller  of Customs,  a  role    which has  assumed   increasing  importance  because of the  reliance on  border security and management in  protecting  the  NZ   economy.        Continue reading “Two outstanding women are appointed to top public service jobs”

Speculation builds on Brook Barrington’s successor to take charge at MFAT

Cabinet’s appointments committee meets shortly for the last time this year and one of its principal agenda items will be finding a new CEO for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade to replace Brook Barrington, who will take over as head of the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet in February.

There has been some interesting twists to the process. As with all CEO appointments, it is run by the State Services Commission which engages a specialist recruiting firm. However, Commissioner Peter Hughes has faced down criticism from within the public service and beyond after he used a little-known clause of the legislation when he despatched current DPMC CEO Andrew Kibblewhite to Justice and moved Justice CEO Andrew Bridgman to Ministry of Defence and Barrington to DPMC.

Continue reading “Speculation builds on Brook Barrington’s successor to take charge at MFAT”

State services: what’s  behind the “upheaval”?

State  Services  Commissioner  Peter Hughes, announcing five top appointments in the state sector,  said he  decided to deal with the vacancies as a package to remove uncertainty and maintain momentum in key roles and portfolios.

The Dominion-Post headlined the news as“Upheaval for public service”.  Richard Harman  in  Politik, labeling it  as the   most comprehensive  reshuffle of  top public service  management  “ever”, argued the govt is saying the move reflects its desire that a more unified old-style public service be further developed.  David Farrar, in Kiwiblog, noting the  appointments  were  made by transfer,  thought this is the first time this power has been used.

“It is very good to see these decisions made before most of the roles fall vacant. This means no need for an Acting CE, and gives good continuity and direction”.

Equal Employment Opportunities  Commisioner  Dr  Jackie  Blue has  a  different  take  on it.  She  blasted the process  as  unfair to  top  women in  the  public service,  and contended  the  vacant    positions  should have been contestable.      Continue reading “State services: what’s  behind the “upheaval”?”