Key pledges to sack prison and parole staff

Written By: - Date published: 2:29 pm, December 10th, 2007 - 52 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

I’ve just listened to John Key’s interview on Radio Dunedin last week:

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“I also think we need to get a lot of the bureaucracy and red tape out of the way. I don’t know if you noticed but on Tuesday a story came out saying that the core bureaucrats in Wellington [WRONG] – and we’re not talking about nurses, doctors and teachers – had gone up 5% to 44,000 from 32,000 [WRONG]. That’s an awful lot of people pushing paper and we would rather see that money focussed on people on the coalface.

The story he’s presumably commenting on is here.

In the story you won’t find any mention of Key’s “core bureaucrats in Wellington” because that’s not what the story is about. Instead it’s focussed on the moderate growth of the “core public service” nationwide. Neither does the story report a rise in staff numbers from 32,000 – that’d be a 27% increase, not a 5% increase.

National wants us to believe that errors like these are trivial, but they’re not. What these errors of fact show are either that Key’s prepared to be consciously economical with the truth or that he’s sloppy (or perhaps a bit of both). Neither is a good look.

So we have an extra 2288 staff in the “core public service” nationwide. Who then are these people if they’re not doctors, nurses and teachers. Who are all these bureaucratic paper pushers that John Key would sack?

Well it turns out that they’re the people helping to ensure that you and I retire with a decent income, they’re the people helping to keep criminals locked up, and they’re the people helping to prevent criminal re-offending out in society.

If these aren’t the people at the coalface, who are?

If Key had done his research (or simply read the article) he’d know that of the 2288 new employees 732 were from Corrections and 371 were from the IRD.

Just for the sake of completeness, here are the three new prisons that Key would have to close to get those 700+ “paper pushers” back off the books:

  • Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility
    • Capacity: 286 prisoners
    • Staff numbers: approximately 170
    • Opened June 2006
  • Spring Hill Corrections Facility
    • Capacity: 650 prisoners
    • Staff numbers: approximately 450
    • Opens: mid-2007
  • Otago Corrections Facility
    • Capacity: 335 prisoners
    • Staff numbers: approximately 160
    • Opens: mid-2007

The Nats’ 2005 law and order policy pledges to “Ensure greater use of preventive detention” and “Introduce post-release monitoring”.

I wonder how they’re intending on doing either of those things while simultaneously taking an axe to prison and parole staff numbers.

52 comments on “Key pledges to sack prison and parole staff”

  1. The Double Standard 1

    Nice try at putting words in Key’s mouth.

    Here’s some questions you might like to consider

    Does IRD really need 5595 staff?

    Does Social Development need 9323 staff?

    Does the Education ministry need 2554 staff?

    Does Economic Development need 686 staff?

    Does Maori Development need 391 staff?

    Seems to me you could lose 700 staff easily across those departments and not even notice, except that there might be a few less Labour voters in Wellington Central.

  2. Gruela 2

    The Double Standard suddenly becomes an expert on the public service, and we are all grateful.

  3. James Kearney 3

    The Double Standard is also clearly a National Party researcher sent here to disrupt and occasionally throw in figures he’s gleaned from the database.

  4. Gruela 4

    I have to say that, especially for an ex-currency trader, it’s a bit of a worry that John Key can’t even work out simple percentages.

  5. The Double Standard 5

    Haha – obviously the standardistas can’t follow a link that Base provide to check the actual facts.

    Much easier to rely on a total fabrication that fits your twisted worldview instead.

    How about discussing the issue – the figures I quoted are straight from the SSC report. Could you cut 700 out of 44,000 staff without even touching corrections – I think so!

  6. “Does IRD really need 5595 staff?”

    Yes. I don’t know about the other departments, but with Kiwisaver, potential tax cuts being explored, and an investigation of LAQCs, I’m surprised that IRD has only hired an additional 371 staff. Poor old IRD.

  7. Patrick 7

    TDS – which services do you think these departments should stop providing?

    Or are you the sort of bitter and twisted person who rattles on about ‘dole bludgers’ and assumes that there are 700 people sitting around government departments doing nothing?

    How many more prisons did National build during their last tenure in power? How many more corrections staff did they hire?

  8. Gruela 8

    Wow, Double

    It must be awesome, having the ability to become an instant expert on anything based only on a belief that you know better than everyone else.

  9. The Double Standard 9

    Wow G

    It must be awesome, having the ability to criticise anyone who disagrees with you based only on a belief that you know better than everyone else.

    IRD has increased from 4418 in 2002, thats nearly 1200 more. When did Kiwisaver start again? They must have been working on potential tax cuts for the last 5 years eh? Lol.

    Patrick – You have an assumption that everyone in these departments are providing a service. Get in touch with the real world. How many services did Clare Curran provide?

  10. Gruela 10

    But Double, you haven’t supplied any evidence that the public service is overstaffed. That’s where your argument falls down. All you’ve said is that you ‘think’ it must be, because some departments have increased their staffing level. Well, we want proof, buddy; No-one gives a dried and salted rats anus about what you ‘think’.

  11. Patrick 11

    I don’t know about your experiences, but I certainly find IRD much easier to deal with these days compared with 5 years ago. I remember almost literally fighting with them over what should have been a minor matter. The fact that I had to wait hours on the phone didn’t help. I had to deal with them for a very similar matter a couple of months ago, and all it took was one very quick and polite phone call. I would certainly say that they have improved a vast deal.

    What I’m saying is that you can’t loose 700 staff and not expect a drop in services. I would like you to tell me where there are 700 surplus staff that aren’t actually needed.

  12. r0b 12

    “No-one gives a dried and salted rats anus”

    It takes a lot to make me laugh out loud (or LOL for you kids). But that one did it for me!

  13. Gruela 13

    rOb

    I got it from John Key’s biography. Apparently that’s all he had to eat when he was growing up. (Gruela gives admiring sigh…)

  14. MikeE 14

    With regard to corrections, I wonder how many prisoners are locked up for victimless crimes such as drug use. How many people are in jail for nothing more than their choice to consumer something such as cannabis, or MDMA at a party?

    How many extra staff will be required with the BZP Ban.

    I’m sure one could afford to cut hundreds of Corrections staff if they weren’t guarding victimless so called “criminals”.

    Do we even need:
    Ministry for Culture and Heritage
    Ministry of Māori Development
    Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
    Ministry of Women’s Affairs
    Career Services
    Health Sponsorship Council
    Housing New Zealand Corporation
    Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand
    Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa
    Charities Commission
    Families Commission
    Government Superannuation Fund Authority
    New Zealand Artificial Limb Board
    New Zealand Lotteries Commission
    New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
    New Zealand Teachers Council
    Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi (Maori Broadcasting Funding Agency)
    Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission)
    Broadcasting Standards Authority
    Children’s Commissioner
    Drug Free Sport New Zealand
    Office of Film and Literature Classification
    Takeovers Panel
    Asia New Zealand Foundation
    New Zealand Government Property Corporation
    Pacific Co-operation Foundation
    Airways Corporation of New Zealand Limited
    Animal Control Products Limited
    AsureQuality Ltd
    Electricity Corporation of New Zealand Limited
    Genesis Power Limited
    Landcorp Farming Limited
    Learning Media Limited
    MCS Limited (is listed on the SOE schedule, but was never formally established)
    Meridian Energy Limited
    Meteorological Service of New Zealand
    Mighty River Power Limited
    New Zealand Post Limited
    New Zealand Railways Corporation
    Quotable Value Limited
    Solid Energy New Zealand Limited
    Terralink NZ Limited (in liquidation)
    Timberlands West Coast Limited
    Kordia Group Limited

    Do any of the above need to be state owned or funded? I’m nto saying get rid of them all, but transferring them to private ownership, or to charitiable trusts would result in those who actually value their services paying for them as opposed to the taxpayer.

    There are SHITLOADS of people on taxpayers tit, with absolutely no justification for state funding. Sure they can exist as organisations – if their services are so valued, surely people will be prepared to pay for them.

    Others however shouldn’t exist at all.

  15. The Double Standard 15

    G – cough up an organisational chart and I’ll point out some surplus for you.

    How many “communications staff” in there, at least 10% I’d guess.

    Do you seriously expect most NZ’ers to believe that there are 44,000 public servants all fully occupied delivering services?

    It isn’t Key who is waving 700 around. It is a fabrication from Base.

    Here is what Key said

    “That’s an awful lot of people pushing paper and we would rather see that money focussed on people on the coalface.”

    Do you disagree?

  16. Matthew Pilott 16

    Look this bollocks from JK is just another dog whistle.

    He is playing on media-fuelled public perception that there are too many public servants and hoping people agree without thinking too much about the grim meat-hook realities that lie in wait for those who take him seriously (not my words – can anyone pick ’em?).

    TDS, you’re making an implicit assumption that the work performed by those government departments is inherently worthless.

    To illustrate – let’s pretend that there are 20,000 doctors and nurses in NZ. Pretend, because I don’t have the numbers, but for an example it will do.

    Now, I’m going to post in reaction to the topic here, that surely we can cull 700 from this lot. Just as you did for some govt departments.

    Now what’s the normal reaction here? That we need these people. Because they’re valuable and we appreciate their contribution to society.

    In the same vein, you’re saying that IRD, MED, MSD, and co are worthless – surely we can cull some staff because, well, there’s just too many!!!

    Which is, I’m afraid, a worthless and unconstructive contribution. Much like John Key’s.

  17. lemsip 17

    All your base how many of the core public service are not located in Wellington? I don’t know the answer to that but I would suggest it is fairly insignificant compared to those located in Wellington.

    And if you bothered to actually read the SSC’s report rather than relying on second hand information you would find that the core public service has indeed grown from 32,000 in 2001 (I believe it is) to 44,000 this year. While this is still lower than the 50,000 odd employed in 1990 it is nonetheless a significant increase. This significant increase has also come with few noticable results. Unless of course you want to trot out the “unemployment is the lowest it has been in a generation” line which I frankly believe is overplayed in the context of significant GLOBAL economic growth.

  18. Gruela 18

    Double

    You’re still just making things up. You don’t have any idea about the breakdown of the departments you’re basing judgement on.

    All that your posts tell us is that you’ve arbitrarily decided that there’s too many public servants in New Zealand. Well, unless your name is Mark Prebble, excuse me if I don’t take your word for it.

    Show us some facts.

  19. the sprout 19

    holy crap, “bureacracy and red tape” – has this man never had an original idea in his life?

  20. the sprout 20

    uh, i forgot “muesli bars to eradicate the scourge of poverty”. that was pretty original.

  21. The Double Standard 21

    Speaking of making things up how can you justify transforming this:

    “That’s an awful lot of people pushing paper and we would rather see that money focussed on people on the coalface.”

    into this:

    “Key pledges to sack prison and parole staff”

    Only a real key-hating crowd could spin like that!

  22. Sam Dixon 22

    double standard – simply saying ‘oh look there are lots of jokers working for some government departments’ is not an argument that there are too many jokers working for some departments. You need to be more sophisicated and show which workers could be cut without a loss of service.

  23. Pascal's bookie 23

    Apart from bullshit, what else but paper has John Key pushed in his life?

    Although I agree with MikeE about privatising his list.

    The Lotteries Commission is a prime example, why should all those gambling profits be returned to the community when the money markets are desperate for stupid peoples money given the slowly unfolding debacle outlined, in part, here:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aciMj4GVKuEY&refer=home

    If the people who buy lottery tickets aren’t going to bail out these poor damn international financial wizards who will? (Taxpayers probably. Afterall we can’t let a bunch of 8 figure a year earning privateers take the fall for the mess they’ve created can we. Think of the precedent.)

    And as for the New Zealand Artificial Limb Board, I ask you. Primarily because I don’t know much about it. But it sounds to me like some heart on the sleave socialist boondoggle. Those damn amputees should get off their arses and find some productive work. No paper pushing either, you skiving shits.

    The takeovers panel is simply an impediment to the efficient running of a good wild west market place. Do we want to return to the Golden Age or not people? Come on!

    Asia NZ foundation. Sounds racist, get rid of it. Who won the bloody war anyway?

    Quotable Value? If you need to know what my land is worth mate, just ask. It’s either $3.50 or 3.5M$ depending on whether you’re from the council or a prospective buyer. Straight up. It’s something to with quantum and the observer effect.

  24. Sam Dixon 24

    double standard – “How many “communications staff” in there, at least 10% I’d guess”

    guessing isn’t a good basis for a party’s policy.

    kiwiblogblog will put you striaght on how much of governemtn spending goes into communications http://kiwiblogblog.wordpress.com/2007/12/06/two-can-play-at-that-game/

  25. The Double Standard 25

    G

    I did show some facts. You seem to have trouble dealing with them. Who says 44,000 is the right number. Next year it will be higher, no doubt. Will that be better, or worse?

    Should we have 200,000 bureaucrats?

    I’m not implying that all the activities are worthless. I’m saying that forever increasing the headcount is not necessarily a good thing. We are probably losing 700 doctors and nurses a year to Oz. So what? I thought we were talking about the public service?

    Come on, you can’t seriously believe that having swathes of communication staff (for example) delivers improved services? Trying to argue that every staff member contributes measureable benefit to NZ is just a lazy argument. Try and come up with a more credible defence!

  26. Matthew Pilott 26

    Speaking of making things up how can you justify transforming this:

    “That’s an awful lot of people pushing paper and we would rather see that money focussed on people on the coalface.”

    into this:

    “Key pledges to sack prison and parole staff”

    Only a real key-hating crowd could spin like that!

    You’re right TDS, he probably only wants to get rid of 3, maybe 5 people. Good spotting.

  27. Robinsod 27

    Jeez Sam – there you go damaging the right’s made up stuff with like facts again. You cheeky bugger, if you keep this up they’ll have to ban you here too.

  28. Gruela 28

    Double

    You really are 3 flavours of idiot, aren’t you?

    The ‘fact’ that there are 44,000 public servants does not actually do anything to validate your argument that there are too many public servants.

    I am now going to avoid arguing with you any further because I’m quite scared that stupid might be contagious.

  29. Pascal's bookie 29

    I’m not implying that all the activities are worthless. I’m saying that forever increasing the headcount is not necessarily a good thing.

    No said it was. You haven’t shown however that the current number is too high. Perhaps we could argue using your logic and ask you if you think that we only need 1 public servant, is that too low, how do you know when to stop? But that would be dishonest and fatuous.

  30. The Double Standard 30

    Keep dodging or leaving the discussion if you like. I’m sure you managed to convince someone that Key wants to decimate corrections, even though it is a total fabrication. Par for the course around here really.

  31. the sprout 31

    privatising the prisons is an excellent idea – treat prisoners worse, guarantee their return, guarantee ever increasing business. good business model, should make the Australian owners even richer.

  32. MikeE 32

    So – Standard people..

    Do you agree that we should keep hiring corrections staff to lock people up for victimless crimes, such as Marijuana possession?

    Or are you going to conveniently ignore the question.

  33. The Double Standard 33

    Sam

    Thanks for that completely irrelevant link. How much of the core public service are communications staff then? Show us the facts man!

    Maybe you can find some information on wikipedia?

  34. Pascal's bookie 34

    MileE I’m not a Standard person, but I say no, we shouldn’t keep hiring corrections staff to lock people up for victimless crimes, such as Marijuana possession.

    Is that what John Key’s talking about though? ’cause otherwise I don’t see the relevance.

  35. Sam Dixon 35

    The link shows that the governemtn spent $69 million as a whole last year on communications, it also shows that the ‘core public service’ cost about 4% of Governemtn spending last year (so, something like 2 billion). I don’t see how that’s irrelevant when you’re going on aobut the level of government spending on communiciations and the core public service.

    Now, even if you do the ridiculous and assume all governemtn communications money was spent by the core public service that’s only 3.5% of core government service expenditure going on communiciations. And, of course, communiciations are necessary – not only so people know about road closures and geeeral notices like that but also so people are informed of new government program that they have a right to access.

    So, you still haven’t identified anywhere that could be cut. Stop demanding figures form other people – you’re the one putting forward the argument that there are too many government workers, you put up some evidence that you’re not jsut talking out a hole in your head.

    Even if you cut all the governemtn’s communicatiosn budget, so that it had no way of notifying the public of importnat information you would only save $3.50 per person in New Zealand. Good one.

  36. Phil 36

    Sprout,

    I see you raise the spectre of privatisation yet again, and assume it MUST be something evil because it isn’t run by the Gov’t.

    That’s just a joke.

    Yep, there were some monumental ball’s ups in the 90’s, and the business model for Electricity Generation and Supply – the poster child for the Anti-privatisation agenda – is STILL far from perfect (hold on who’s had eight years to try and solve that? I forget…).

    BUT, and this is a big but, the models and structures for markets are much better understood now. You only need to look at the massive savings employers made when ACC was privatised in that one glorious year of logic and reason to see a proof of concept.

    I see no logical or political reason for not having more public-private partnerships in Health, Education, even Corrections.

    It’s simply a matter of making sure the rules are clear.

  37. The Double Standard 37

    Wow Sam, hope you didn’t get spittle on the screen while you were spewing that lot out.

    How about explain how this statement

    “That’s an awful lot of people pushing paper and we would rather see that money focussed on people on the coalface.”

    can mean this this:

    “Key pledges to sack prison and parole staff”

    Only a real key-hating crowd could spin like that!

    How many policy analysts does this MSD need anyway?

    Here’s a good one, while we are talking about communications.

    http://www.bfound.net/detail.aspx?jobId=57302&CoId=210&rq=3

  38. Amateur Scrabbler 38

    Matthew Pilott @ 4:09 – Hunter S Thompson?

  39. r0b 39

    There’s plenty of Gonzo journalism in blogs! (But there’s only one HST).

  40. Amateur Scrabbler 40

    Thompson certainly excelled in the use of colourful metaphors.

    And he quite possibly coined the phrase “political junkie”.

  41. Robinsod 41

    It may surprise some of you but I’m quite a fan of Hunter S. Good to see him getting mentioned here.

  42. Amateur Scrabbler 42

    Robinsod – Have you read The Rum Diary?

    Bleak, but still good I thought.

  43. the rum diary was good but fear and loathing will always take the cake. it just has the iconic status. it is like tarantino with pulp fiction- reservoir dogs is as deserving but doesn’t quite make it to the lofty heights in icon status

  44. the sprout 44

    bean you big book-tosspot

  45. Amateur Scrabbler 47

    Absolutely Fear and Loathing is the definitive Thompson work.

    The reason I mentioned The Rum Diary is because it is such a rare foray from Thompson’s other ‘journalistic’ pieces.

    You can see the anti-authoritarian sensibilities of Thompson when you look at the subversion of the traditional narrative structure, regarding the climax and resolution of the novel.

    But yeah, Fear and Loathing is definitely a lot more fun. Especially to watch…

  46. Amateur Scrabbler 48

    Sheesh… bad sentence…

    Fear and Loathing is definitely a lot more fun than The Rum Diary. It is great as a movie… Benicio del Toro is absolutely classic as the attorney.

  47. how interesting…i really didn’t like the movie. despite really enjoying johnny depp (for all the wrong and right reasons) and benicio del toro as actors. perhaps it was because what was described in the book was just so fantastical that to have your mind go there was more satisfying than having some one else’s interpretation provided for you. the narrative also seemed quite contained in the movie…smaller somehow, less sprawling. if that makes sense

  48. r0b 50

    I agree. The movie just didn’t do it quite right. Like the film version of Catch 22 – close, but not quite.

  49. Amateur Scrabbler 51

    Yeah nah… 🙂

    There’ll always be tradeoffs when a work is translated from one medium to another. Having now read the Wikipedia entry for the film, it seems that an animated version – in the Ralph Steadman style – was in the works at one point.

    Now that would’ve been something to see…

    But I’ve always considered that the film stands on it’s own artistic merits.

    Each to their own… 🙂

  50. Matthew Pilott 52

    Scrabbler, at 8:56 – spot on! Strange person to quote on a left blog I know 🙂 But I thought there’d be a few fans out there…

    Latest on the rumour mill is Depp casted in the Rum daries – one can only hope!

    So I better haul my ass to a public library (the public sector, what can’t it do?) and read the damn thing. Thankyou all, you’ve motivated me to do it.

    “political junkie” – if Hunter S. didn’t coin that phrase, he indeed embodied it. I just want to know how Bill Murray and Thompson played ‘shotgun golf’. Sounds better than the original…

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