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A Butcher’s Shop, a Toy Shop, a Candy Store and a Childcare Centre

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, April 25th, 2012 - 14 comments
Categories: business, health, housing, public services, science, Steven Joyce, tenants' rights, workers' rights - Tags:

So Steven Joyce’s personal fiefdom is confirmed; his Super-Ministry will come into being on July 1.

Many will not see how Economic Development, Science and Innovation, Building and Housing, and Labour are an obvious combination.  Or any combination.  As David Cunliffe puts it:

[It’s] a bit like combining a butcher’s shop, a toy shop, a candy store and a childcare centre. It may sound great to an accountant but there are likely to be serious practical difficulties in the real world.

It’s meant to be a “business-facing” ministry – designed to help business.  Quite how the Department of Labour fits in with its responsibilities for upholding employment law and health and safety is concerning at best.

Indeed there’s a real worry about how any non-“business-facing” tasks will fare in the new ministry.  We need more “blue-sky” research science done, but that is typically ignored by business as too risky – as Science has been dropped from the new ministry’s name, how much can we expect from government now either?

Building and Housing?  Our current housing stock is one of our country’s most pressing concerns, both in quality and quantity.  We need 10,000 houses now in Christchurch, but Auckland also needs about 10,000 more built per year as well to cope with its expansion.  And then there’s the quality – far too many children are dying from our unhealthy homes.  Is a “business-facing” department going to be concerned with health concerns?  With providing the housing warrant-of-fitness our tenants need?  Or with providing a bottom line for Fletchers and landlords?

But of course – as with most things this government does – this is primarily a cost-cutting exercise.  Better public services?  No – cheaper by the dozen.

Estimates vary from 140 job losses to hundreds, but it’s clear this is about quantity, not quality.  Policy jobs are the first to go – although I guess as with many cuts we’ll have to see how many come back in contractor guise.  But the cut back of policy work on Housing and Science and Innovation – two areas we need some serious ideas for improvement – should worry us all.

At least we won’t have to worry about any Ministers losing their jobs, despite their loss of Departments.

But shuffling the cards in reality is unlikely to create any real cost-efficiencies.  It’s more likely to just create a “business-facing” hydra, pulling in conflicting directions and making a mess of its conflicting responsibilities.

Once we’ve wasted 2 years and millions of dollars bringing it up to speed that is.

14 comments on “A Butcher’s Shop, a Toy Shop, a Candy Store and a Childcare Centre ”

  1. bad12 1

    A good analogy from David Cunliffe,it caused a smile from me even befor i had read the full text of the post and in a political sense show’s what Labour missed out on when it disregarded Cunliffe as leadership material,

    Its effect is to even befor one is subjected to whatever the intent of Cunliffe’s speech on the particular subject, to switch on the observers intellect thus making such more receptive to being able to process the further information and intent of that information’s provision,

    Putting a bit of jam on the everyday bread and butter of the political discourse in other words..

    • Dr Terry 1.1

      Thanks for comment bad12, especially re Cunliffe. We are likely to be sorry many times over that the Labour lot really blew yet another excellent opportunity (this time over the leadership).

  2. muzza 2

    It begs the question IMO – What were those meetings with Google, actually all about!

    • Tom 2.1

      There were reports that Key intended replacing the public service with a google cloud service .. hosted on servers god knows where.

  3. marsman 3

    As the Minister in charge of the ‘Super’ Ministry will Sneaky Steven Joyce now be Super Sneaky?

    • bad12 3.1

      Snigger!!!it sure as hell would beat the Itchy and Scratchy show on the Simpsons, the Slippery and Sneaky cartoon show,rings a bell,might have to drop in on ole barefoot Pete down the road in Miramar and see if He is interested…

  4. bad12 4

    The housing shortage beginning to bite severely in Christchurch and Auckland must make Brownlee and National happy to see the ‘market’ working as ‘they’ intended it to do,

    The neo-capitalists having sucked the masses in with the simple tenet of supply and demand have found in the Canterbury earthquakes and the bulging population of the city of Auckland the perfect means of creating a supply side shortage that gives ‘them’ every opportunity to rack rent with impunity and anecdotal evidence would suggest that such rack renting,(in some cases still renting out red stickered Christchurch properties for a premium),is being taken up with gusto in some areas,

    The Statistics would suggest that Auckland has already fallen behind the necessary house build over the past decade by as many as 30,000 housing units and unless Government as the biggest player in the rental market in terms of both numbers and being able to by dint of addition to those numbers keep private rentals at some real world level of affordability, pulls finger and gets moving with a realistic building program befor a real explosion of the homeless appears on the streets of central Auckland and makes life even more uncomfortable for the Auckland City mayor…

    • muzza 4.1

      Real world affordability – Auckland Style

      Phew, must be a heap off cashed up people in Auckland man. I can feel the country getting “wealthier” just from reading the article…

      Gee, I hope it’s not a mirage…..

    • Colonial Viper 4.2

      The Statistics would suggest that Auckland has already fallen behind the necessary house build over the past decade by as many as 30,000 housing units and unless Government as the biggest player

      7 out of 10 years in the “past decade” were Labour led. Just saying.

      • Tom 4.2.1

        Hmm .. what *is* wealth ?

        “the meaning of wealth is context-dependent and there is no universally agreed upon definition. At the most general level, economists may define wealth as “anything of value” which captures both the subjective nature of the idea and the idea that it is not a fixed or static concept. Various definitions and concepts of wealth have been asserted by various individuals and in different contexts.[2] Defining wealth can be a normative process with various ethical implications, since often wealth maximization is seen as a goal or is thought to be a normative principle of its own.[3][4]”


  5. bad12 5

    Aha, 6 and a half years in the ”past decade” were Labour lead. Just being pedantic,

    Labour’s malaise as i am wont to keep pointing out is that from where I sit Labour appeared to be a Government of,for,and,by the middle class,

    Unfortunately that middle class is also the ‘ownership class’ many of whom have gone on from simple home ownership to ‘ownership’ as investment,

    Labour in such a situation is caught in the conflict of interest where building whole suburbs of State Housing would eventually if enough were to be built take the steam out of both rental housing anmd house prices in general,

    Labour tho in raising the State housing stock to 69,000 after the 1990,s National Governments ransacking of the portfolio on behalf of ‘it’s’ voters did at least go some way to redressing the rot,

    At it’s peak the State housing portfolio numbered some 75,000 housing units for a population of some 3 million of us,

    The present number of 69,000 State Houses is serving a population of 4 million + and those numbers alone would suggest,without delving into the world of the year by year numeric numbers of those who ‘fit’ the lowest economic decile, that as a country we need at least 100,000 State rental units,

    My view tho is that that particular ball game has completely changed where the State Housing of my childhood was essentially the preserve of the working poor,those minimum wage workers who could never expect much more than the bare minimum of wages,

    In todays new reality, the welfare beneficiary is more likely to be the decile of note within the Housing portfolio of the State, leaving the working poor,most of whom will be trapped their whole damn lives working for that minimum wage to the mercy of the private rental market so in all reality, to make any diffenerence whatsoever to the societal aspirations of the working poor there is in all probability a ”need” of 150 to 200,000 State rental units…

  6. logie97 6

    It’s so easy for the wealthy to make “cutting” decisions with impunity. It won’t affect them in the slightest. Now if Key, Joyce, and co were on the minimum wage, I wonder if they would be so keen to restructure other peoples’ lives.

    • Tom 6.1

      Agreed. It is sad to see the idyllic paradise of youth transformed into a playground for northern hemispheric plutocrats. But was it always really that idyllic .. ?

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