11 July 2016

If Kelvin's departure was no biggie... #nlpoli

According to Premier Dwight Ball,  Kelvin Parsons was never going to stick around for long as the Premier's chief of staff.


Let's think about that for a second.

If that's true,  why didn't Ball already have someone on tap to replace Kelvin when he finally decided to quit?

If Kelvin wasn't going to hang around, why did they extend Parsons' contract to next March, when his original contract was to the end of March 2016?  They could have given a shorter extension, like say six months.

Ball told NTV that Parsons was just in the job as part of the transition.  Why didn't Ball have a chief of staff appointed who could carry on, with Parsons serving as a trusted senior advisor?  Ball could have appointed a chief of staff  he'd already identified and then let Parsons go his merry way without disrupting the operations of the Premier's Office.

"Kelvin had some experience in terms of legislative things," Ball said on Issues and Answers. "He'd been part of a budget before [sic]" and Ball just wanted someone he'd be comfortable with in the transition.

Fair enough.   Ball says he had no hesitation appointing Parsons as his most senior advisor knowing at the time that he would only be there for a few months.  Even in acknowledging Parsons’ role, Balls' words seem to diminish Parsons’ contribution to the new administration.  Parsons merely  had “some experience” about a very particular thing as opposed to the broad experience one would need as the most senior political staffer and as a form cabinet minister would have.   

In his interview with NTV,  Ball said something really odd,  again. Ball said that he and Parsons remain friends. That stands out because there's been no suggestion that Parsons and Ball had had a falling out. Ball's own story is that Parsons' departure is normal, routine, and expected.  By making a point of noting they are still friends,  Ball seems to giving us a pre-emptive denial,  a clue to something that is really important to him but that is unknown to the rest of us.

In other words, it could be a  case of  The Rule of Opposites or Not (X) = X, as labradore used to put it.  Ball is saying one thing but meaning the opposite.  Ball did precisely the same thing when Tim Murphy quit suddenly.  In the absence of any indication of hard feelings, Ball offered that the two remained friends.

In hindsight,  Ball's comments about the two departures from his office are out-of-place to the point where one might well wonder what the truth is.  In Murphy's departure, for example, the official line from the Premier's Office made no sense anyway.  Murphy is an experienced senior executive in both the public and private sectors.  The idea that he wasn't prepared for the political office is simply preposterous. The private version - that he just wasn't up to the job - is laughable.  Given the discrepancies between the events and what Ball said, very belatedly, last week, we might wonder if more to the Parsons story might flop out in the days and weeks ahead.

And that's not the only curious things in Ball's interview with NTV.   It sounds bizarre for Ball to speak of Parsons' departure as a chance to bring "fresh blood" into his administration.  AFter all, Ball has only been in office seven months.  That's pretty fresh.  Ball also said that he'd expected Parsons to leave so this departure is not a sudden chance to get fresh meat ...errrr blood into his office.

Ball was also very unspecific when he said that he would "take the necessary time" to find a replacement for the most senior political staffer in his administration.  What are the odds Dwight can accidentally impale himself on a unicorn twice in one administration?  After all, if he had already scouted a replacement for Parsons as he'd done with Stan Marshall,  then Dwight wouldn't need to take any time at all.

Then there's the comment that he and his already over-worked senior staff would take a "team-focused approach" and divide Parsons' duties among themselves.  Wasn't it a team before?  It's another odd phrase.  Is this a case where "team player" and the opposite of "we are still friends" adds up to a case of Ball now having surrounded himself with people who agree with him?

Unlike, say, Parsons and Murphy?