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Farewell Mr Makhlouf

Written By: - Date published: 12:39 pm, June 13th, 2019 - 46 comments
Categories: Economy, treasury - Tags: ,

Being a public servant at the highest level takes incredible fortitude. Only a few stand out.

Gabriel Makhlouf leaves shortly as the Treasury Secretary.

He has led the formation of a framework that has restructured how the government spends public money from the ground up.

It is likely that this restructuring of advice and measurement about budget prioritisation will withstand any future change to a National-dominated government, since they were working on it under Minister of Finance and Prime Minister Bill English.

We have waited for decades for Treasury to be ruled not by ideology but by facts that drive policy outcomes.

This new framework makes it a more subtle and secure framework than the last time any central government tried a broad policy framework across all budget bids – the Growth and Innovation Framework in the early part of the Helen Clark government. That ambitious bid to stabilise policy extremes from the 1990s and to harness business effort for policy aims did not have a lasting impact in Wellington.

The new framework is likely to be more successful and enduring. Treasury’s Living Standards Framework aims to capture a comprehensive, balanced range of wellbeing outcomes indicators. It is not prescriptive about whether or how governments should intervene to promote wellbeing. It helps support advice about prioritisation.

The openness of the methodology makes it incredibly plain just what weighting the government is looking for, and provides the spreadsheets for government Departments to make wellbeing real for actual budgets.

In a sense it can also become an accountability framework for any government because it’s easier to see where funding is having the best effect.

Part of this is a wellbeing approach to cost-benefit analysis. It’s enlightened and enlightening.

In the last budget his Department was the target of a political hit – I won’t prejudge the results of it yet since the investigation continues. It’s not material to what has been delivered anyway.

But in order to make a new framework for budgets in New Zealand, it takes a totally policy-focussed team. Mr Makhlouf’s broad experience in policy framework development in tax, welfare, banking, and operational delivery was critical for the success of this budget and its framework.

This achievement needs to be separated from whether we think the budget was weighted better or worse in any one spending category. The framework is there and it is likely to endure.

That is as good a tribute to the work of a public servant as one could wish for.

46 comments on “Farewell Mr Makhlouf”

  1. Macro 1

    Thanks Ad – Ive been waiting for something like this to be said. It has certainly not been the focus of journalists, or commentators here for that matter. I find this 2019 Budget a very positive document from the point of view that it has been formulated, not just with an eye to constant growth of GDP – as if that was the only measure of a countries well being – which it certainly isn't – but from the point of view as to how do each of the initiatives work towards improving the well being of people in this country.

    This year the emphasis has been on improving the lot of 5 sectors of our society representing people and situations who have been neglected for far too long.

    • transitioning to a sustainable and low-emissions economy
    • boosting innovation, and social and economic opportunities in a digital age
    • lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities
    • reducing child poverty, improving child well-being and addressing family violence
    • supporting mental well-being, with a special focus on under 24-year-olds.

    Anyone who has had any experience of accessing or helping those with mental health issues in this country will no only too well that anything like adequate support is almost non-existent until it is far too late in many cases.

    • ianmac 2.1

      Are you saying that his appointment to Ireland could be withdrawn? Simon would crow a victory but the appointment is rock solid.

  2. ianmac 3

    Great to see how Treasury is being upgraded. Thanks Advantage. And in due course will Ireland benefit from the Mr Makhlouf Leadership? I bet that they do and it is the first time an "outsider" has been employed in that role. Wonder if the Opposition will give credit to him?

  3. greywarshark 4

    He has been breaking ground. but where there has been a drought the ground can be incredibly hard. So Mr Makhlouf I hope when you go from here that you enjoy more fertile and pleasant (relatively) pursuits overseas in your new position.

    Fran O'Sullivan at the NZHerald puts it simply. You have to pay to read the rest.l

    It's been quite gross to watch the political jackals try and throw Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf under the bus before a State Services Commission investigation is complete.

    In my view much of what is at stake boils down to simple semantics over Makhlouf's use of the word "hack" and his use of that term again when he said there had been "deliberate and systematic" hacking of the Treasury website.
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12239505

    (It would have been more correct to use the word ‘burrowing’ into Treasury records that National carried out, rather like the rats that burrow into a compost heap.

    • ianmac 4.1

      So would Fran be a supporter of the Opposition handling do you think?

      • greywarshark 4.1.1

        Dear Mr Makhlouf If you see this post, we sincerely appreciate your work and your ability to have made some positive changes which may lead us on to a brighter future than we have had to illuminate us in recent years. We wish you well in Ireland, that has suffered from hubris as we have, and may you help them to survive that well. After this comment, in this post, we get into the ordinary argy-bargy and nit-picking that is common to the great discussions of the ordinary citizens – mediocre, practising or advanced thinkers that come here and discourse. So you could choose to pass by that if you wished.

    • alwyn 4.2

      "It's been quite gross to watch the political jackals".

      That is rather harsh of Fran isn't it? I thought she was on better terms with Grant Robertson and Andrew Little than to describe them in that manner. It's probably quite fair of course. Grant and Andrew both learnt their trade in student politics and they therefore play very, very rough.

      • Stuart Munro. 4.2.1

        Fran was referring to the opposition. I guess it was an oversight not to use the usual 'jackasses'.

        • alwyn 4.2.1.1

          Good God! Are you really so stupid that you pay to read the premium articles in thet ridiculous fish and chip wrapper?

          I never would have believed you were in that bad a state.

          • Stuart Munro. 4.2.1.1.1

            I think the last time I paid for a Herald must've been 1991, when I boarded the Eikyu Maru in Auckland as a MAF observer. I can still smell the mud off the mangroves.

            • alwyn 4.2.1.1.1.1

              How did you read the article in order to be able to tell us who she was talking about then? It isn't obvious from the little teaser one can see when you look at a "premium" article. Thus I just assumed, since it looked so like a complaint about the way that Grant seems to have thrown his Department Head under a bus that she was talking about Grant et al.

              Rather like Twyford seems to have been pushed in front of a bloody great truck by Parker. Such an "open and transparent" Government, don't you think?

              • ianmac

                The only jackals that I have seen attacking Mr Makhlouf are the leaders of the Opposition. Not once have I seen any attacks from the Government benches.

                Therefore alwyn you get zero marks for comprehension.

              • Stuart Munro.

                Anyone with even mediocre comprehension skills can tell from the excerpt Alwyn – your misfortune is that anything that reflects negatively on that dreadful assemblage of ambulant dog tucker, the Opposition, gives you cognitive dissonance and leaves you readily confused.

  4. peterh 5

    All he did was. He called a shovel a spade

  5. SHG 6

    Treasury is not what it was.

  6. feijoa 7

    It is great to see a budget with a change of focus.

    Nationals budgets always seemed to crow the word SURPLUS or (nearly) SURPLUS

    and that was all

  7. gsays 8

    Thanks Advantage, I had no idea about any of your post.

    I am a little wiser now.

    It is a little unfortunate that he has been caught in the eddy created by the leader of the opposition as he splashes about, out of his depth and flalling about with a raggedy connection to a positive budget.

  8. patricia bremner 9

    Yes Thanks Advantage. Your article gives more information.

    I am glad to hear Mr. Makhlouf was instrumental in forming the Budget's spread sheets. At one point I wondered if he was involved in the leak. Great to know he had a strong positive role.

    Sadly Soimin seems to enjoy poisoning the well with his actions and accusations. The budget was about people not GDP, so he would find that strange. Destroying not building is his mantra. So may it be a long long time before the opposition attains power.

    • Anne 9.1

      You speak for me too patrica bremner.

      I was beginning to suspect as much because Mr. Makhlouf has been quiet and dignified since the saga began.

      Let me add Amy Adams to those who have been poisoning the well with false acusations. She misrepresented the most recent events involving the GCSB today at QT and she had the gall to question the ethics of government ministers when it is her own party who have been engaging in unethical tactics.

      https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=207246

      https://www.parliament.nz/en/watch-parliament/ondemand?itemId=207249

      • greywarshark 9.1.1

        Amy Adams – the gal with gall! In fact the Gnats have an excess crop of it and are fermenting and bottling it. This accounts for their wild and wacky behaviour.

        Of course that is part of the RW tactics today; to keep us busy with OTT verbosity and theatre while they get on with stripping the country, grabbing bits of it and polluting it while they carry out money-making projects that enable them to carry out further money-making projects and so on.

        So it goes.

      • SHG 9.1.2

        Publicly proclaiming a non-existent "systemic hack" of the government's most important financial systems and announcing a non-existent police investigation is quiet and dignified?

        • Anne 9.1.2.1

          An existent serious breach of confidential information was sought and achieved by a National Party staffer within the precincts of the Parliamentary buildings. The information gained was unethically used by the National Party against all known precedent and purely for self-serving political gain. As a result a formal investigation is under way to determine exactly what happened.

          Since then, several eminent legal experts have questioned the police's conclusion that the breach was not unlawful and did not warrant the title "hack".

          Given the police are not the experts when it comes to the letter of the law, I am inclined to suspect there is more to come over the legality or otherwise of the staffer's action and the subsequent release of the data by Simon Bridges and co. We will have to wait and see.

          • The Chairman 9.1.2.1.1

            Given the police are not the experts when it comes to the letter of the law…

            Considering the circumstances, one would expect they (the police) would have sought expert legal advice from the onset.

            Which raises questions why you're inclined to suspect there is more to come over the legality or otherwise?

            Have you got wind of talk Labour are applying political pressure on the police to revisit this as a further means to cover their ass?

            If word like this got out it would only make matters worse for Labour.

            • RedLogix 9.1.2.1.1.1

              The informal word 'hack' has many and varied connotations, here are a few that come to mind:

              Unauthorised access = hack

              Leak = hack

              The Chairman = hack

              Getting the chop = hack

              End of patience with obtuse idiots = hacked off

            • Drowsy M. Kram 9.1.2.1.1.2

              A The Chairman "more left than most" comment that doesn’t compute.

              "Labour are applying political pressure on the police… …to cover their ass"

              Chair, think you'll find it's spelt 'arse', as in 'how to make an arse of yourself.'

            • Psycho Milt 9.1.2.1.1.3

              …one would expect they (the police) would have sought expert legal advice from the onset.

              One may speculate anything one likes, of course.

              Which raises questions why you're inclined to suspect there is more to come over the legality or otherwise?

              That's "a question," singular, which is easily answered. Anyone with an interest in the matter and a good supply of cash is able to start a private prosecution.

              Have you got wind of talk Labour are applying political pressure on the police to revisit this as a further means to cover their ass?

              No, but I have got wind of talk that National has a dirty politics crew that loves scamming people on social media into reading and accepting National's talking points.

            • Anne 9.1.2.1.1.4

              Have you got wind of talk Labour are applying political pressure on the police to revisit this as a further means to cover their ass?

              That's a risky road to go down TC. Inferring a slanderous story like that will not go down well with government, officials or the police. I suggest you sweep up the extraneous foreign matter inside your brain with a vacuum cleaner before someone turns up and does it for you. It could hurt. (sarc)

              • The Chairman

                Considering your party insights and the logical rationale the police would have sought expert advice, it was a genuine and valid question.

                If anything was slanderous here it would be your suspicion the police failed to seek expert advice from the onset. Suggesting they didn't do their job properly in a matter as high profile as this.

                You love riding that high horse so much I thought I'd give it a turn smiley

  9. … ‘ He has led the formation of a framework that has restructured how the government spends public money from the ground up ‘ …

    ———————————-

    Oh really.

    And now we are going to see the reversal of the neo liberal liberalization of the Finance sector, the Reserve Bank and the Treasury… OK then…

    Storm of the Century

    • Stuart Munro. 10.1

      It's kind of the Turning Away in microcosm.

      First you rid yourself of the hereditary baggage of rulers.

      You have a democracy. But it's slow and fractious, so you anticipate needs and meet them. This is Savage et al, an enlightened technocracy.

      Then a bunch of wolves in sheeps clothing sell a new paradigm – call it the 'third way' or 'Rogergnomics', but the people are no longer even a consideration. But the new economics is an unmitigated failure. Traditional supporters learn to despise and revile Labour.

      Which leaves them kind of lonely. They seek friendships among their class – carpetbagging technocrats who deprive the ordinary citizens of the fruits of democracy. Thus the current mayor of Christchurch becomes a water thief and so forth.

      A party that once represented a substantial majority has been successfully marginalized and the asset theft frenzy can resume.

      • WILD KATIPO 10.1.1

        ''Born in lust , turn to dust, born in sin, come right in''…

        At least Mickey Joseph Savage was real to the core….unlike the gluttonous excuses for the sham representatives for the working class we see today aka neo liberal Labour.

        ”Born in lust , turn to dust, born in sin, come right in”…

        • Stuart Munro. 10.1.1.1

          I still have some hopes of JA – Labour has moved away from the hard greed and stupidity of Goff to some degree.

          But it seems I shall never have my own boat, much less build my own version of the garden of the Master of Nets.

          The Neoliberals stole that future, and no doubt hundreds of thousands of others.

          • WILD KATIPO 10.1.1.1.1

            And so therefore the 'missing' generation have some accounts to settle.

            ''Give me what I want and I will go away'',…

            I had my young working life and future raped by these types, and I want recompense. And unlike many , I will not settle for their adultery's, their thefts, their pedophilia or their corporate sins. I will not let my 22 year old son suffer under them.

            ''Give me what I want and I will go away''.

            ''Born in lust ?, turn to dust, – born in sin ?, – come right in ''….

            • Stuart Munro. 10.1.1.1.1.1

              What happens to a dream deferred?
              Does it dry up
              Like a raisin in the sun?
              Or fester like a sore–
              And then run?
              Does it stink like rotten meat?
              Or crust and sugar over–
              like a syrupy sweet?
              Maybe it just sags
              like a heavy load.
              Or does it explode?

              Langston Hughes

  10. Sorry @Ad, I hadn't realised we'd sunk so low in our expectations (going forward).

    So (as they're apt to preface every sentence)

    Thank you Gabs! for doing the job you were paid handsomely to do.

    Thank you for living up to to what was expected of you – despite that nasty little lapse of judgement in the words you used when under a bit of pressure and when confronting a few calling you to account for your actions.

    May God go with you, and may your CV be recorded as unblemished in your future endeavours

    • Do you,… think 'Gabs' cared that much?

      Or is he more in the line of Harold Titter who devastated our public health system?

      Give me what i want and i’ll go away – YouTube

      • OnceWasTim 11.1.1

        Well I guess 'Gabs' could have hung about in lil 'ole NuZull a while longer and been in line for any number of pozzies in the PS. All the right attributes: an import, 'a good bloke' (just call me Gabs), impressive CV as a generic manager (read all the right books on management and economic theory), well versed in the art of apportioning blame when things go tits up and taking credit when they're all good, and, better still – from the white wing of the Empire who knows how to come and show us mere colonials a 'best practiced' better way.

        Actually, at the moment I'd probably do a swap between Grainne Moss and Gabs McAloodleloodle – couldn't be any worse and they'd be seen to be doing something (going forwid)

        I'm thinking the State Services Commish would be grateful for such a sage when considering the next Shuffle. OT perhaps? NZTA? MBIE, MSD? the possibilities are endless

  11. The Chairman 13

    The new framework is likely to be more successful and enduring

    Yet, you go on to say:

    It is not prescriptive about whether or how governments should intervene to promote wellbeing. It helps support advice about prioritisation.

    As it is not prescriptive on how or in fact whether or not Governments intervene at all, it doesn't seem likely it will be more successful, but is likely to endure since work began under National's governance.

    With this so-called wellbeing Budget being the direct result of the new framework, it's evident the prioritisation is flawed.

    One can't seriously claim to be addressing family violence, mental health and poverty without significantly investing in housing and core benefit rates. Decent, stable housing and livable incomes are two vital prioritisations required before we can genuinely look at addressing other social ills.

    Therefore, it is clearly evident the new Budget framework is flawed from the onset.

    And going off the Government’s hyping of it, they have no plans to correct it in the short-term. Once again, taking the country down the wrong path.

    • McFlock 13.1

      As it is not prescriptive on how or in fact whether or not Governments intervene at all, it doesn't seem likely it will be more successful,

      yawn

      It's a dashboard. It shows the situation, where you've been, how fast you're going, and what direction you're travelling with.

      What you do with that information is up to you, but in this case everyone can see the dashboard. Backseat drivers sit across the floor in opposition.

      Demanding that a dashboard should be prescriptive is like making a flight controller that can't pull up.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 13.2

      "Once again, [this Government is] taking the country down the wrong path."

      Another one of The Chairman's "more left than most" comments that doesn’t compute.

      The Chairman wants NZ to be on the 'right' path.

  12. SHG 14

    “old rich white guys” is such bad writing

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