Slippery John in search of a hot-button

Written By: - Date published: 2:46 pm, March 12th, 2008 - 14 comments
Categories: john key, same old national - Tags: ,

To follow on from Steve’s post earlier today, it looks like National’s focus groups have thrown them up another hot-button issue – Key has alliteratively labeled this the “ballooning bureaucracy”.

Back in December we posted on him effectively saying he was all for sacking prison and parole staff as well as the people who administer your KiwiSaver contributions. Looks like his tune hasn’t changed.

Some growth in the core public service is essential if new government programmes are to be successfully deployed and monitored. Last year’s growth in the core public service was around 5% and was largely driven by the building of new prisons and the administration of KiwiSaver. As we reported last time, of the 2288 new employees 732 were from Corrections and 371 were from the IRD.

Key’s new tactic is to draw an artificial distinction between “front-line” and “bureaucratic” staff – but this clearly needs some explanation.

If frontline police, for example, don’t have adequate support staff they end up doing the bulk of the paperwork themselves. And while they’re doing paperwork they’re not out on the beat. That’s a recipe for a rising crime rate and harks back to the 90’s when the public service was so run down from years of neglect that that kind of thing is exactly what we saw. The same applies in education and health.

Similarly, if we’re to get good returns on new and existing social programmes we need effective monitoring. So when Key talks about “getting more value out of what we’ve got” we should be asking, “but who’s going to be doing the analysis?”. I suppose that perhaps if you don’t have new policy you don’t need new monitoring.

Finally, if I were a prison guard or a parole officer or any other worker in the core public service I’d be pissed with John Key.

Why should he be using me as a political football when he wouldn’t be prepared to do it with nurses or teachers?

ALSO: Colin Espiner presents this challenge to Key in his most recent blog post:

Precisely who are these fat-cat, smug, bloated bureaucrats getting fat on the full-cream milky tea of the taxpayer? Do Beryl and Jim really exist? Name and shame them, then.

Otherwise the whole thing sounds a little like talking tough without actually walking the walk.

14 comments on “Slippery John in search of a hot-button”

  1. Santi 1

    Talking about being “slippery”. Why hasn’t The Standard addressed the Hawke’s Bay DHB issue?

    Some skeletons in Labour’s closet maybe? Undisclosed interests? Biased opinions? Conflict on interest on King’s part?

    Be brave and blog on this “sensitive issue”.

  2. Steve Pierson 2

    santi. What even is the issue? I’m not familiar because it seems boring and small beer. Some dude had some conflict of interest, was it managed right? that’s the issue, eh?

    How are we in any position to judge? If it were to come out that a politician was implicated in something major that went wrong, we’d cover it, for now it’s a substance-free attack point for the righties.

  3. Tim 3

    Santi, I think your off-topic post shows that you have no arguments in support of your position (whatever it may be) on the actual topic of this thread.

  4. SweeetD 4

    “I’m not familiar because it seems boring and small beer.”

    FFS, thats just about up the with Dear Leader saying Phillip Field was only guilty of helping his constituents

  5. Steve Pierson 5

    SweeeetD. How so?

  6. just more evidence of how bereft of ANY ideas National really is. and the lameness of their supporters’ comments here shows they know it too.
    National, Working Towards A Failed Past

  7. SweeetD 7

    Steve Pierson

    There looks to be serious corruption at HBDHB. $50m dodgy tendering processes seems to me to be more than just small beer. I think your comment was way off the mark.

    The sprout

    “just more evidence of how bereft of ANY ideas National really is.” What? You don’t think that the civil service is bloated? Its growth rate at several times that of the private sector; for what outcomes? Labour goes on about how much money is going to this, that and the other, but what about the productivity? What are all these people doing?

  8. SweeetD, what’s that you say… “blah blah blah Ginger, blah blah blah”?

  9. He SweeetD, Santi and the rest of you trolls. If you don’t like it go and talk about it on Kiwiblog (Davey’ll be glad to get the hits). This post is about Key’s attack on public services and as has been noted you’ve got no answer so STFU.

    I’d say the Nats are finding it really hard to run the policy campaign. “Ballooning bureaucracy” might focus-test well as a phrase to use in an attack on a specific issue (such as the hiphop tour beat-up) but it’s not got wholesale traction past the Kiwiblog right.

  10. SweeetD 11

    he he

    must be a record for getting under a leftards skin, 3 posts on this little site and I am a troll. I am guessing you are all civil servants and come end of the year will have to find a new job.

    Sprout, I think your mum is calling you in for dinner. Time to let the big boys talk.

  11. steveo 12


    Thanks for the links from the CTU, PSA and Michael Cullen one would expect these persons to support the core public service.

    However there has been significant growth in certain areas which is certainly cause for concern as below

    * Education bureaucracy staff have grown by 40 percent, compared to 12 growth in the number of state sector teachers;
    * Health Ministry staff have grown by 51 percent compared to a 28 percent growth in doctors and nurses employed by district health boards;
    * Staff numbers in policy, research and corporate services at the Social Development Ministry have grown by 109 percent compared to 23 percent growth in Work and Income and Child, Youth and Family staff;
    * Core bureaucrat numbers have grown 37 percent, compared to 10 percent growth in state sector staff providing frontline services and 22 percent growth in employment in the economy as a whole.

  12. I’d suggest that this list might provide some guidance for areas where the ballooning bureaucracy have too much time for blogging.

    Would be extremely interesting to see similar visit stats for Teh Standard. How about AYB – lets see you put up some facts for a change. 7532 2182 1975 1824 1300 1043 1021

  13. Dom 14

    I’d love the Nats to answer me this: how are you going to manage a public service that you have been constantly slamming as bloated and useless? National have been politicising the poor public servants by using them as punching bags.

    Key looked very shaky when answering the ‘will you fire people’ question. So he’s going to look at spending line by line? My god, how much money will THAT cost?

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