Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Bad taste creates many more millionaires than good taste

It was only a matter of time.

And in this case, time is the essential item.

I can already hear my socialist friends chanting "slash and burn, slash and burn", because the man with the manifesto to slash red tape in the health bureaucracy has now begun his role as Minister of State Services.

Sitting at my school PC (that's what baby reporters do), I noted a scoop e-mail alert titled "Government Shared Network to be discontinued" pop through at 5.13pm.

The fact that the State Services Minister Tony Ryall is cutting the GSN ("a secure network linking government agencies with high-speed Internet and telecommunications services) is not, in and of itself, overly surprising.

Nor is the fact that the "[p]articipating government agencies will be moved to a new provider in the private sector."

The thing's losing money, and has done since its inception in 2007 (don't ask me why it was supposed to make money), so it was obviously going to be a candidate for slashing under our auspicious minister.

But 5.13pm for the press release?!? After the layout of most morning papers have been drawn up and TV's putting on the finishing touches to its 6pm bulletin?!? Hoping against hope that it gets lost in the avalanche of press releases accompanying the return of the politicians?!?

Puh-leeze - that's just plain stupid.

It looks suspicious and it draws attention to the move when it could have been sneaked through earlier in the day while all the media focus was on the RMA changes.

This is a senior minister with experienced PR professionals in his office, and it's not something that they saw at 3.30pm this afternoon, decided upon at 4.45pm, and wrote up a press release at 5.12pm.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Will the media fall for it and ignore a potential follow-up for something that looks, sounds, and smells like scuttling public sector jobs? Probably.

But it shouldn't - and touch wood, someone will pick it up and ask Mr Ryall what else is on the agenda for the slash and burn treatment.

This baby journalist would, but afterschool care's closing up, and I've got a ton of stuff to do.

Maybe I'll leave it to the professionals.... maybe...


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