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.