During the neoliberal revolution, the 4th Labour Government and the Nats decided to break up the big ministries into lots of little ministries and autonomous agencies. The idea was that the ministries were like big lumbering dinosaurs that suffered inefficiencies of scale. Smaller bodies would be more nimble, better able to adapt and change, and more efficient (the other idea was that splitting off certain functions was the first step to corporatisation and then privatisation).
Now, the Nats have turned their previous arguments on their head. All these small bodies are inefficient and annoying – ie. they generate too much work for lazy ministers. If they are all coalesced back into the big ministries, everything will be more efficient and savings will be made (tax cuts!).
Of course, the promised savings didn’t eventuate during decentralisation and they won’t during recentralisation. This isn’t the first time the New Zealand public service has been put through this cycle and the result is always the same. Big restructuring costs (read: the Nats’ mates pocketing large sums in consultants’ fees), disruptions to public services, and little if anything in the way of measurable savings.
This is meant to look like the government doing something but what are they really doing of any importance? The fact is that after recentralisation the government will still be doing the same stuff as it was before, just with a simpler organisational chart and fewer HR staff. It’s not going to save a fortune and it’s not going to change anything. All it will mean is a fewer reports for lazy ministers to pretend to read.
On a side note, there’s a rule that we try to adhere to very strongly about not comparing Rightwingers to certain German Rightwingers who had a thing for jackboots and some pretty extreme views on race. But I tell you what, the Government’s not making it easy for us – we’ve got a Minister of Police who seems to believe in unfettered power for the State and thinks the solution to every problem is to lock someone up, a government MP proposing eugenics, and, now, talk of a Minister of Information.
I know, I know they won’t be running state censorship and propaganda, just the National Library and National Archieves plus LINZ and Stats maybe. But I would have thought any right-minded government would have rejected the title ‘Minister of Information’ out of hand.