Nick Smith is gone but you might have missed 2 other senior ministers on the ropes yesterday. Steven Joyce hasn’t bothered to do his homework, doesn’t know if his ‘mega-ministry’ will save money or cost more. Meanwhile, McCully’s shifting blame to the CEO he appointed for the Mfat mess while blowing $200K to give the ambassadors an earful in person over all the leaks.
If competence is something John Key demands in his ministers, these two have some explaining to do if they’re to keep their jobs.
Cunliffe lays out Joyce
7. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE (Labour—New Lynn) to the Minister for Economic Development: What, if any, are the capital costs, write-downs and redundancy costs expected from the merger of the Ministry of Economic Development with the Ministry of Science and Innovation, Department of Labour and Department of Building and Housing?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development) : The specific costings for the items sought by the member are not available at this time. As stated last week when the planned merger was first announced, a due diligence process is now under way, and Cabinet will receive a report next month that will provide further information. We are confident, given our recent experience with other public sector structural change, that the costs will be able to be met within baselines. We also expect savings through better coordination, better-quality advice, and giving businesses one agency to talk to, and that these will outweigh the costs.
Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to table a document created by the Parliamentary Library, depicting the Ministry of Science and Innovation’s shining new logo, which so far has been relevant for only 408 days.
Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to table this document created by the Parliamentary Library, depicting the Ministry of Economic Development’s new website branding, which was relevant for no more than 235 days.
Hon David Cunliffe: Why was a full due diligence not completed on the full costs of the merger prior to its announcement? If one was completed, who conducted the due diligence and what was the result, and if it was not completed prior, why not?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Because the Government took a strategic decision—
Hon Member: Oh!
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: It did. It took a strategic decision to, in principle, merge those ministries, and then a full public due diligence process. The reality, as the member knows, is that you have to go through a process and that involves a significant number of officials and people and a significant amount of time. It is appropriate that the Cabinet make a strategic decision first, and then that work is done once the Cabinet is keen to move forward.
Goff to McCully
Hon Phil Goff: Have heads of mission been called back to New Zealand to a meeting in Wellington on 2 April, and, if so, what is the cost of doing that?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: The chief executive has signalled to heads of mission that they can expect an invitation to a meeting in Wellington in April to discuss their roles in the change process. This has been necessitated by the fact that large-scale outsourcing proposals involved in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade consultation process will not be proceeded with. Many, but not all, heads of mission are likely to attend. I am advised that the process is likely to cost around $200,000.
Hon Phil Goff: Is the Minister telling the House that he is bringing back most heads of mission, at the cost of at least $200,000, to tell them that his restructuring proposals are not going to go ahead in the form that he proposed, because they are unworkable?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: Let me be very clear about this. I have not asked the heads of mission to come to Wellington. The chief executive has invited heads of mission to come to Wellington for the meeting. I have indicated to the chief executive that I support him in issuing that invitation. The proposals that have been put out to staff for consultation clearly require significant modifications, and those modifications will involve an enhanced role for those heads of mission.
Hon Phil Goff: Has the Minister allowed to be spent millions of dollars on consultants for the change process, 34 staff to be listed in his staff directory as being in the change programme office, and now several hundred thousand dollars to be spend to bring the heads of mission back, all to tell them that the proposals that he has been labouring on for over a year are not going ahead?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: The chief executive circulated detailed proposals for change, because the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade needs to undergo significant modernisation to ensure, for a start, that its footprint comes close to matching the significant changes that have taken place in New Zealand’s trade and economic interests. The member might like to reflect on the fact that Mr Allen confronts this task because that member was asleep on the job when he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Hon Phil Goff: Is the Minister now telling the House that it is all Mr Allen’s fault, and that, in fact, Mr Allen did not consult with him closely at every step of the way about the direction of the change and the fact that he, as Minister, expected $40 million in cuts from his ministry?
Hon MURRAY McCULLY: I have made it very clear that the proposal circulated to ministry staff comes from ministry management, and not from me.