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Guest Post: How many working groups did the last National Government create?

Written By: - Date published: 7:50 am, April 26th, 2018 - 38 comments
Categories: labour, making shit up, national, Politics, same old national, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

Like many of you, I’ve been very frustrating by how petty some of the attacks on the new government are, and I’m not just talking the daily ‘breaking news’ Op-Eds! One of the most annoying attacks, and one that has been getting a fair bit of traction, is that the government isn’t really doing any work itself, and as appointed working groups to do pretty much everything. This attack has been ramping up over the past few weeks, and last week National released a list of the 75 groups they claimed the government had commissioned to advise it on various aspects of policy.

The article ended with the rather weak statement ‘National has been asked how many groups it established in its first six months in government.’ And of course, there was no answer, and a week later there still isn’t.

Therefore, I decided if no one else is going to add up the number of working groups National comissioned in their first 6 months, then I should. I knew from memory of the previous governments activities that they were certainly not adverse to appointing advisory bodies. From the top of mind I could recall there were Tax, Savings and Welfare working groups in the first term alone, as well as the infamous ‘Jobs Summit’.

I went to the very useful archive function on the beehive website, and looked through the list of every press release or speech the government had sent out in their first 6 months. I tried to use the same criteria the National Party had used, in coming up with their list of 75. Of course, the current government has not started 75 working groups, so National had to use very broad criteria in coming up with 75. You can see National’s full list and associated hyperlinks here. To get this number they included:

  • Working groups ( I can only find 4), including those set up by external bodies that the Minsiter attended, such as the Housing Crisis Working Group
  • All reviews announced (including those conducted by the public service)
  • New bodies set up by the government, including the Pike River Recovery Agency, and the Independent Climate Commission.
  • Inquiries (such as the Mental Health Inquiry) and the State Care Abuse Royal Commission
  • Panels, such as the one overseeing the Provincial Growth Fund
  • Summits, such as the Road Safety Summit and the Criminal Justice Summit, and Hui
  • New roles proposed, such as the Chief Technology Officer
  • Reference Groups, even the one announced by the Inspector General of Intelligence & Security

They also somehow managed to count some reviews twice, when they were in two separate press releases. For example number 44 “The Prime Ministers commissioned a review into how Australia and New Zealand can work together to remove barriers to growing the digital economy” is somehow distinct from number 45 “We have also agreed to jointly commission a review of our policy and regulatory frameworks to ensure that they are creating an environment in which trans-Tasman digital trade is as open and facilitative as they are for conventional trade”.

Number 22 is also another cheeky one. This is a link to article which largely consist of Jami-Lee Ross critiscising the government for not making progress on a rates inquiry, that was referenced in the Labour-NZF coalition agreement!

This broad remit, gave me a broad remit to look into what National had done in their first 6 months. And this was the answer.

It took National 6 months and one week to reach 75. For full transparency, you can see the full list of review on google drive here.

This proves in my mind that the National oppositions attacks are totally spurious, and people should stop taking them seriously. Conducting reviews and consulting with internal and external experts is core government business. The nature of politics is that people often hear complaints with how current processes are working, however usually there are complex reasons that explain how current laws and processes work. Therefore, making kneejerk decisions without a full understanding of the issues is clearly dangerous, and I think Trump has shown us what happens if you govern like that. It is clearly important that governments take on board advice, and make decisions with a full range of facts in front of them.

Luke C

38 comments on “Guest Post: How many working groups did the last National Government create?”

  1. JanM 1

    Good work! Now how to get this out to the great unwashed?

  2. dukeofurl 2

    Did you forget the link to the ‘google drive’ for the spreadsheet ?

  3. Chris T 3

    I think Labour’s problem is they made so many massive promises they were going to do as soon as they got in before the election.

    Promises they were never going to be able to live up to.

    It was stupid

    In part I think mainly out of desperation as they thought they were going to lose (before Ardern walked up), and it was damned if you do, damned if you don’t

    As an aside, I have always found the “But look how useless they were, so we can be just as useless” excuse pathetic btw

    National did it when they got in 2008 and it was pathetic then too

    • Muttonbird 3.1

      It’s working. You’ve been sent with tail between legs so I’m guessing others will become quiet also.

      • Chris T 3.1.1

        “You’ve been sent with tail between legs”

        Have I?

        Interesting

        I didn’t notice

        • Muttonbird 3.1.1.1

          Firstly, your comment doesn’t relate to the post. The post is about debunking a National party attack line and showing that reviews and consultation is core government business, yet you claim Labour promised too much.

          Unhappy with the government but longer able to complain about the 75 working groups, you go that often tried tactic of throwing your hands up saying they’re all as bad as each other.

          Interesting that the Nats and their followers would try the working groups attack having themselves done exactly the same and without recognising that they are government business.

          • tracey 3.1.1.1.1

            Because they know the press will just copy and paste rather than verify the claims and seek a counterpoint through their own analysis. Look how quickly the 11bn hole statement got traction. Nats know that a mistruth or misleading statement can get traction before it is disproved. Sadly they have been rewarded for this over and over

    • Cinny 3.2

      Lolz Chris, there’s still years left in the cycle.

    • millsy 3.3

      2017 Labour made a lot less promises than 2014 Labour did.

  4. Grant 4

    * Averse not Adverse

  5. patricia bremner 5

    Thanks for this…. can’t find the link.

    • Anne 5.1

      I think it is meant to be the last word in the sentence below the graph – here. It should be blue but probably committed a typo and it didn’t work.

  6. tracey 6

    Luke.

    How long did it take you to compile? I ask because we are told our newsrooms have no time to background so just copy and paste party press releases and add their opinion?

  7. Ad 7

    Cheers for the corrective analysis.

  8. Lettuce 8

    All true of course; and this analysis doesn’t even count the enormous amount of of policy work that the last National government outsourced to private “services” firms like ‘Price Waterhouse Coopers’ and ‘Ernst and Young’ at eye-watering cost to taxpayers.

  9. Michelle 9

    It would be good to see who told the most lies I bet the gnats will win this one hands down

  10. McFlock 10

    nice post 🙂

    Another reminder that tories are hypocrites.

  11. The Other Mike 11

    These numbers have been known for a week now. But not if you listen to ZB, or read NZH etc etc. Beveridge on ZB yesterday was still complaining about the (non-existant) disparity ffs… someone tell them!

    • dukeofurl 11.1

      Midnight to 5am on ZB
      Should be easy to call up and ‘discuss’ for those here who are night owls

  12. Babayaga 12

    I very much doubt the data is correct, but even if it is, National inherited an economic time bomb on 2008, along with a raft of other neglect. Labour have inherited an economy in terrific shape. This governments reviews are about dodging the tough decisions. Simple.

    • dukeofurl 12.1

      The data was taken from beehive.govt.nz releases by national at the time

      heres the list, go through and check the links and tell us which ones ‘arent correct’

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1f6wGvy1KkR08oFeNx97VKfOmHSHL-ZehnuACutUvNRo/edit#gid=0

      You say GFC ?
      What about this one
      Minister decides board of inquiry best process for Turitea wind farm proposal
      https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/minister-decides-board-inquiry-best-process-turitea-wind-farm-proposal

      or this
      Minister working with taxi industry in wake of death

      and you will love this one:
      New Tax Working Group to assist government May 2009

      • Baba Yaga 12.1.1

        Thanks Duke. I won’t look at them all…I’ll take you word for it. If that’s correct, what a waste of money, and my criticism of Labour applies to the Nats as well.

    • The Other Mike 12.2

      Further – by 6 months and ONE WEEK – nats has gone up to 75…

      • Baba Yaga 12.3.1

        “According to Bill English the economy was in great shape when National got in to power.”
        Now that’s very dishonest of you. In your own reference English is speaking about the state of the governments finances, NOT the economy. In fact the article states this:

        “The recent low was 17 per cent of GDP and the ghastly projection for 2013 is 33.1 per cent and possibly worse, under what Treasury calls a “downside scenario” – 38.6 per cent.

        Unemployment is forecast to rise to 6.4 per cent in 2010 and deficits forecast to be $2.4 billion to $3.5 billion larger over the 2010 to 2013 years than forecast just before the election. ”

        ‘The economy has been trashed (under-funding government services) by National so as to make the rich richer.”
        So you haven’t learned from the lies Labour have told about Middlemore? Or about what Grant Robertson himself has said about the strength of NZ’s financial position?

        • Draco T Bastard 12.3.1.1

          Now that’s very dishonest of you. In your own reference English is speaking about the state of the governments finances, NOT the economy.

          In the context of the article, it’s the same thing. The GFC was going to hit us no matter what.

          Government debt was low which would allow the government to respond by taking on more debt and maintaining employment.

          The problem was that National cut taxes, took on more debt and still trashed the economy.

          The unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in the September 2010 quarter and 7.0 percent a year ago.

          National actually made it worse than those projections.

          So you haven’t learned from the lies Labour have told about Middlemore?

          The only lies about Middlemore that I’ve seen are coming from the RWNJs as they try to defend their trashing of the economy.

          • Baba Yaga 12.3.1.1.1

            “In the context of the article, it’s the same thing.”
            Now that’s even more dishonest! The financial position of an economy is very, very different to the condition of the economy.

            “Government debt was low which would allow the government to respond by taking on more debt and maintaining employment.”
            Government debt was kept low at the expense of high private debt because of a failure to pass on tax cuts.

            “National actually made it worse than those projections.”
            National inherited an economy going into recession before the impacts of the GFC. Their tax cuts made the recession shallower and shorter than it other wise would have been.

            “The only lies about Middlemore that I’ve seen are coming from the RWNJs as they try to defend their trashing of the economy.”
            No, the lies have been coming from left wing idiots who swallow the idea that a oopsie on hospital floor is the equivalent of sewage running down walls.

    • NZJester 12.4

      National actually inherited an economy in good shape and proceded to screw it up immediately. They started by cutting taxes for their rich backers and borrowed a lot of money to do so. Then to keep cutting taxes they also started to slowly underfund everything by only increasing budgets for essential serves like health slightly, but not keeping the funding increases up with the rate of inflation and with the increase of the population.
      Or economy only weathered the recession other countries had due to Labours forward thinking and paying off our debts.
      Labour now actually has the real economic time bomb left by National to sort out as there are not only a lot of heavily underfunded critical public services to try and fix but a record debt hanging over our heads run up by National.

      • Baba Yaga 12.4.1

        “National actually inherited an economy in good shape and proceded to screw it up immediately. ”
        No, they inherited a balance sheet that was in good shape. The economy had an extraordinarily poor combination of high interest rates and inflation and declining growth.

        “They started by cutting taxes for their rich backers and borrowed a lot of money to do so.”
        Wrong. National cut taxes for everyone, and borrowed to rebuild Christchurch and fund welfare and infrastructure spending during the GFC.

        “Or economy only weathered the recession other countries had due to Labours forward thinking and paying off our debts.”
        Wrong. The nation’s low debt level had come at the expense of high privet debt because of Cullens poor management of tax levels.

        Labour are inherited a growing and vibrant economy, and are gradually destroying confidence.

  13. ianmac 13

    A great piece of work thanks Guest Post Luke C.
    Wonder if Guyon will ask Bridges to explain. More likely ask him about his holiday in Hawaii.

  14. peterh 14

    If you want to find out what labour is doing wrong, tune in everyday 5.55am Mike never misses

    • Incognito 14.1

      At 5.55 am I like to listen to the birds, not to some pompous peacock who sounds like a heron with a frog stuck in his throat. Each to his own …

  15. Logi 15

    Key took care of Maori and the super rich, Ardern takes care of the Pacific Islander, Maori and the poor – Who will take care of the taxpayers???

  16. Lloyd 16

    Logi

    If we all have income then we are all taxpayers.

    Labour has consistently been better at balancing the books because Labour policies tend to balance income and all the population can then be taxpayers.

    if we are all paying taxes then everyone is better off.

    If we are all better off we pay more taxes. It is a positive feedback cycle.

    The government therefore has more income. The books tend to balance better.

    The government can therefore spend money on things that “the taxpayer” needs but can’t afford as an individual – such as good hospitals and education of those persons who will take care of them in their old age.

    The worst thing that a government can do for “the taxpayer’ is to try and reduce taxes.

    Never trust a politician that promises to reduce taxes – they will screw you! (and they will screw the economy).

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