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Human face of public service cuts

Written By: - Date published: 3:00 pm, August 30th, 2011 - 41 comments
Categories: articles, john key, public services - Tags: , ,

Good human interest story in the DomPost today about the human costs of public service jobs cuts. A Wellington woman has written a letter to Prime Minister John after her
63-year-old mother learned last week that her position at the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry is to be axed.

Staffing cuts after a merger with the Fisheries Ministry will leave 144  people jobless, mostly in the capital. They will join more than 1500 civil servants laid off this year so far and a total of over 5000 general public sector jobs cut since the government took office in 2008 promising to ‘cap not cut’ public service jobs.

Read the full article here


41 comments on “Human face of public service cuts”

  1. ianmac 1

    Funny how during the 90s National separated those Ministries out to increase efficiency and save money. Now we combine said Ministries to “increase efficiency and save money.” Suckers aren’t we.

  2. bigbruv 2

    Tough luck, plenty of people in the private sector have lost their jobs as well, where is it written that public servants (who create no wealth at all) should enjoy a job for life.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Without the public service no one else would be able to “create wealth” as the infrastructure needed to do so simply wouldn’t exist. It is far, far more important for NZ to keep those people employed in their positions than anything in the private sector.

      • Vicky32 2.1.1

        It is far, far more important for NZ to keep those people employed in their positions than anything in the private sector.


        • Gosman

          Why don’t you people just outlaw the private sector? I mean the public sector is so much more productive and useful after all according to your logic.

          • mickysavage

            The problem Gosman is that you see it in terms of either or.  Us lefties see it in a more complex way and realise that both have their part.
            Any fool can lop off jobs to make the short term financials look better.  It takes real intelligence to make the system work properly.  And this requires a vibrant properly resourced public sector as well as a vibrant properly resourced private sector.

            • Gosman

              I love it. One of you lot makes a completely irrational statement such as “. It is far, far more important for NZ to keep those people employed in their positions than anything in the private sector.” yet somehow it is I who sees things as either or.

              • Colonial Viper

                If you are a capitalist, you will advocate for the process of creative destruction in the private sector. The firms who provide the best services and products at the best prices should succeed, and the weakest firms allowed to fail, lessons learnt and new growth generated.

                The public sector on the other hand helps provide a continuity of infrastructure and societal systems that everyone relies on, employed or unemployed, private sector or public sector, boom or bust, wartime or peace time.

                So there is reason behind the statement, should you care to spend time looking for it.

          • mik e

            Singapore does much better than Gooseman. 65% Govt ownership.14.6% per annum growth , Mighty River power50% increase in profit.Just about all the major SOE’s that US taxpayers have invested in are paying well above market returns any investor would be extremely dumb to sell those high performing assets . AirNew ZEALAND on the other hand would be a good company to sell down. National are just plain stupid if they are selling out of these companies that are returning up to 50% percent increases in return while we are only paying 6% in interest on borrowing. These sort of returns will help us pay off our debt much faster in the long run than a quick firesale [quick buck mentality] DUMB DUMB andDUMBER .Gooseman tell me a good reason to sell these highly profitable businesses.No party political claptrap I want you to prove it makes economic sense .I have your answer already it would be stupid!

          • Draco T Bastard

            Why would we do that Gos? The private sector does have some small use – it’s just not the driver of the economy that the RWNJs, such as yourself, want to believe it is.

          • AAMC

            I’m with you Gossy, lets all stop paying our tax, sack the public service in favor of a “Big Society”, justy to see how Mainfreight go, or Fonterra, once the roads and bridges are decrepit. How will any business fare without educated citizens?
            The private sector is dependent on the public sector, as for your Market taking care of it. Show me the railways, show me the fast internet, the market failed to deliver buddy!

      • Gosman 2.1.2


        Im sorry but what ‘infrastructure’ does the Ministry of Culture create that then goes on to generate wealth?

        Has this wealth generation been quantified in any studies or do we just take your word for it that us Private sector workers owe it all to to Civil servants?

        • Blue

          “what ‘infrastructure’ does the Ministry of Culture create that then goes on to generate wealth?” Answer – none. It certainly sucks up a great deal of tax payer money from families that would sorely need it and spend it more wisely than any Government right of left. There are may others in that category that could do with a trim, having grown to overblown and unsustainable proportions under the last Labour Government. We all pay when tax payer funds are wasted.

          • uke

            – Te Papa (and other MCH-funded musems) attracts a fair swag of tourist business.
            – Radio NZ is the only decent media organisation in NZ.
            – The NZ Film Commission nutures our movie creatives – in case you’ve forgotten it helped one P Jackson get started.
            On these three alone, I’d say taxpayers get a pretty good return from MCH.

        • framu

          ministry of culture?

          how does Agriculture and Forestry Ministry become the ministry of culture?

          or is this just some cute little meme you using?

        • mickysavage

          Im sorry but what ‘infrastructure’ does the Ministry of Culture create that then goes on to generate wealth?

          It helps with the creation of art.  Need I say more? 

        • mik e

          New Zealands uniqueness ,A lot of tourists come to this country to look at our culture.probably as many who come to the rugby. and we have a minister for Rugby. leisure activities are a growth area .But asking a philistine to understand is a waste of time.

        • KJT

          What do Phillip Morris, Lion Nathan, Brierly, SCF, Hanover, ANZ etc etc do to create wealth?

          Don’t even let me get into overpaid managers who only know how to cost cut, asset strip and destroy, politicians paid to work for New Zealanders who are doing their best for overseas banks, financiers and speculators, SOE managers whose agenda is getting them privatised to up their pay, and, the endless supply of RWNJ’s, who keep popping up with the same counter-factual crap, from the same song sheet, we have debunked many times here..

      • Credo 2.1.3

        What bullshit. Most Public jobs outside of police,defence and courts are not needed and indeed impede the efficient operation of the NZ economy.Long before tax paid time servers were growing their arse’s on the tit the private sector was creating the wealth these leech’s gorge upon. Lets see the private sector stop wok for a while and we will see who really needs who to survive.

        • lprent

          You mean like the last few remaining mining inspectors who didn’t inspect Pike River allowing it to be the great success we see today ? Or the missing building inspectors a decade ago – I can just see how having thousands of leaky buildings helped the private sector and grew our economy – not.

          Face it, you’re a pathetic wanker without an ability to think things through.

        • KJT

          Show me a private sector company in NZ which started without some form of State assistance.

          • Blue

            ” Show me a private sector company in NZ which started without some form of State assistance: My business actually. My capital started it up and is the only capital at risk, my capital keeps it running and my employees are employed at 20% higher rates than any union award that applies as a base rate. Subsequently most have left the union of their own volition and negotiate with me direct, which has been and will continue to be for their benefit. Poor workers get paid less than good workers, for reasons they are all aware of, and for blindingly logical reasons, even to lefties, of ‘fairness’ (love that word). Low and virtually no turnover of staff in the last five years, bonuses paid for performance above expected and agreed achievable measures. Pretty easy really. They also understand that there are no bonuses if they are just ‘adequate’ at their jobs. The hand of government took no part in the startup and has no part in the operation. You people live in a dream land where all bosses are evil, and even fundamentally lazy and stupid people should get paid the same as those who are hard working and intellectually robust.

            • KJT


              The State did not educate you and/or your workers, help pay for the knowledge that you use, look after their/your health, you and they do not use roads to get to work, you do not use electricity, you don’t rely on the State enforcement of the rule of law for your contracts and your customers also have no State support?

              I have always said that those who work harder or more effectively, take time and extra effort to gain qualifications and genuine entrepreneurs should earn more.

              There is no reason for a banker who destroys 7 times more wealth than they make or a manager whose only skills are cost cutting and asset stripping to earn many times the pay of a skilled worker.

              Good to see you are a socialist who pays your workers fairly.

              • Blue

                Not a socialist pal, far from it. If you work harder and are more productive you get more money and benefits, don’t and you’ll get less. Its that simple. The reason my employees are paid that much, is because they understand thats the way it is and they buy into it without wanting something for nothing. Their salaries have risen directly in correlation with the reduction in union membership and interference. If I solely paid the union demanded rates, they would be worse off, because good workers would get the same as the bad ones. I pay for performance, not just turning up and being mediocre.

                Your analogy using roads and state health is ridiculous. Using this infantile argument you lose sight of the fact that company taxes ( and my personal) pay for those “State provided” items so very little help has been received in nett terms, in fact as usual my tax contribution not only covers my use and my company’s use of these items , but plenty of bludgers shares as well (probably yours too). Unless you mean a handout for doing nothing? If so you must be confusing a beneficiary with a worker.

    • Jenny Michie 2.2

      Big Bruv –
      Tough luck, plenty of people in the private sector have lost their jobs as well, where is it written that public servants (who create no wealth at all) should enjoy a job for life.

      With all the love in the world Big Bruv you don’t know what you’re talking about. Below are some snippets from the PSA’s keepNZworking.co.nz site. It’s got lots of actual facts about public spending. You should go and have a look.

      Some countries with small governments do achieve high economic growth. But countries with large public sectors tend to have high growth and work smarter – that is, they do it without having to work such long hours. One economist has estimated that when it comes to GDP growth per hour worked, six of the eight most productive countries internationally are those with “Continental welfare states” like Sweden and France. (The US ranks ninth.) Public spending enables the same or better economic growth while placing a lower burden on workers – as well as achieving the social outcomes listed above. [Peter H Lindert, Growing Public, Cambridge University Press]

      Public spending supports employment in a variety of ways, for example by providing work for local businesses, and in general promotes economic growth;

      ● Investment in infrastructure boosts the economy by providing roads, railways and electricity and water that business needs to function;
      ● Public spending can be more efficient than private spending, thanks to economies of scale and enhanced coordination;
      ● Public services such as schools and hospitals make workers healthier and better educated, and therefore more productive;
      ● Public spending on benefits operates as a security net that enables people to make a quicker return to work;
      ● Redistributing income increases consumer demand, because poorer people spend a higher proportion of their income.

    • deservingpoor 2.3

      “Tough luck, plenty of people in the private sector have lost their jobs as well, where is it written that public servants (who create no wealth at all) should enjoy a job for life.”

      So I guess you completely missed the entire point of the post then.
      This is about a real 63 year old woman with a real family and real emotions who has lost her job and may lose her house.
      No one said that a public service job should be a job for life, any more than any other job.
      But, the good old kiwi attitude of “I’m getting screwed over, so you should get screwed over too” guarantees that we will remain a nation of nasty, self centered suckers.
      Here’s an idea, how about neither of us should get screwed over.

      Public servants are real people and losing your job, regardless of whether some right winger regards it as a real job, is a devastating experience.

      Would you say this to that woman’s face?
      If not, you shouldn’t say it on the web either.
      If you would, you clearly lack any sense of human decency.

    • KJT 2.4

      So Doctors, Teachers, Council Staff, building inspectors, Police etc etc have no part in helping create the countries wealth. Or do they only magically become productive if they are privatised.

      The privatised health system in the USA is such a help to their productive economy, compared with ours. yeah right.

      Or are you trying to tell me that Contact is productive but Northpower is not??

      One is private and removing billions a year in profit from New Zealand while the second is a public trust and is returning profits to Northland. Both supply an essential infrastructure service.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 2.5

      Ok maybe you could convince your buddy JK to rid us of MAF altogether- who needs taht middle class welfare for farmers. And while at it he can privatise all road building so that NZTA stops wasting $bills on stupid bitumen monuments to themselves.

    • Peter 2.6

      Public Servants work in the Education sector which earns at least 2 billion dollars in export earnings a year. I thought the private sector was the sector that was going to save us all, as a result of National policy, not lay people off?

  3. bigbruv 3

    Well the good news is that the government seems to be keen to get rid of a lot more public servants over the course of the next six years.

    Less strain on the tax payer, less government (which is always a good thing) and less funding for the Labour party.

    Seems like a good deal for the tax payer.

    • Craig Glen Eden 3.1

      bigbruv is still upset the All Blacks lost it appears,lashing out at anyone he thinks deserves his hate.

      get some counseling bro before its to late.

    • KJT 3.2

      Such a good deal having to pay more for private services which used to be supplied more efficiently by the State.

  4. handle 4

    “a total of over 5000 general public sector jobs cut since the government took office in 2008 promising to ‘cap not cut’ public service jobs”

    Yet some claim the government has been ‘doing nothing’. Expose the lies.

  5. Ed 5

    “A spokeswoman for Mr Key said he had not received the letter. He would respond to the author, but “not through the media”. ”

    It is fair enough for him to respond to the author personally, but the wider issue of the support that is being given to people losing their jobs, is one that the government should be covering. The newspaper felt that the story was worthwhile publishing; here’s hoping that they or someone follows up and calls the government to account ,

    Grant Robertson says “It is very easy for the current Government to lump everybody into a statistic and say this is what has to be done in the public service … to depersonalise it. “But these are real people, with real lives and families.

    “One of the insidious things about cuts to the public sector is these are people who can’t openly fight back because their job is to work for the government of the day. This woman just wanted to make her voice heard.”

    This is a departmental merger that it appears will not make any significant savings in costs, and results in higher costs for unemployment benefits. The government should come clean on the real net result for New Zealand.

  6. Jim Nald 6

    “Human face”? With National? You mean “Smiling mask”?

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