Last night at the Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards the New Zealand Police and Porirua City Council won the Prime Ministers Award for Public Service Excellence for their collaborative ‘Safer Porirua’ project. John Key himself announced the winners at the awards dinner, and congratulated the Police and Porirua City for the success of the project. However, at the same time Key’s government is cutting back on the funding available to community projects like this one, and his Minister of Local Government is recommending that Councils can only spend money on core services like rubbish collection and wastewater, unless given mandate for other spending by local referenda. It is also ironic that the Minister of Police Judith Collins has publicly congratulated the Police on their win but the Minister of Local Government has given no recognition, acknowledgment, or congratulations to Porirua City.
It seems sad that we live in a country where the Prime Minister can front up and hand out an award for public service excellence for the very type of public service that his government is dismantling. It is also unfortunate that when a Council wins the top award at a ceremony usually dominated by central government (Porirua City was the only local government finalist) that the Minister of Local Government wont even acknowledge the hard work and community commitment required to win the award.
It is also sheer arrogance that in his speech at the event, the Prime Minister said that in his first 8 months in the job he has come to understand how hard the public service works, and the commitment of public servants to their communities, he feels that the public sector is not efficient and that he expects the public sector to be more productive. (unfortunately his speech isn’t on the beehive website yet, his previous one is – for the semifinals – so hopefully last nights one will go up soon).