The appointment of New Zealand's top postman John Allen as its top diplomat is an inspired move by State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie.
It signals that this Government wants to place greater emphasis on the trade side of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry operations.
Prime Minister John Key knows that growth is the only way for New Zealand to succeed once the worldwide slump is behind us.
The Allen appointment, which ministers were entitled to veto, suggests they are very comfortable with what is an unorthodox appointment. The decision says that the National-led Government made it clear to Mr Rennie that it did not want business-as-usual at the ministry when current head Simon Murdoch departs.
The leader writer then draws parallels between John Allen's appointment, and John Key's ascension to the leadership of the National Party:
Mr Allen's imminent shift from the state-owned enterprise NZ Post to head MFAT has some parallels with the National Party's own election of John Key as its leader in late 2006. Neither man is encumbered by the ancient baggage borne by those around them, allowing each to take a fresh look at the challenges they face and at the solutions that might be offered.
In Mr Allen, according to one insider, the SSC has found a unique individual for a unique position, a man who instinctively understands that trade policy succeeds only when it and a country's political leadership are aligned.
Foreign affairs in this country has mostly been the preserve of diplomats and cast-out politicians. The ministry has never been led by a businessman, or anyone who has not earned his spurs by patiently crafting elegant papers on arcane aspects of foreign policy, or poring over the entrails of who might succeed the Dear Leader in Pyongyang.
That bodes well for New Zealand's international reputation, but more importantly, as a portent for our recovery from the current economic woes. That the major daily newspaper in the political centre of New Zealand gives such endorsement is significant also; the Dom-Post has not been particularly effusive in its praise for the Key adminsitration to date.