The productivity shell-game

Written By: - Date published: 10:57 am, July 7th, 2009 - 24 comments
Categories: public services, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Is he named for the great economist John Maynard Keynes or Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan? Either way, he speaks a lot of sense:

There was an attack on the ‘bureaucracy’ during the 2008 election, and the front line was held to be sacrosanct. The rest were bonfire candidates. Now we get an attack on the front line not as direct, not a ‘you are all useless’ but a ‘pull your weight, no free lunch’.

So the front line must increase ‘productivity’. What does that mean? I do not think Bill was talking about touchy-feely peer reviews, 360degree assessments and weekly one-one-ones.

How are we to gauge ‘productivity’? Individually or collectively? It seems we are talking about the latter here. So:

Do teachers have to teach more students in less time? Students are not widgets, and this is not something over which teachers have control. Solution: aggregate grade assessments? Nope too subjective. Perhaps a formula could be worked out, but it would be difficult. To do better, they need better organisation, procedures, scheduling and so on.

Nurses and doctors: again: what is ‘productivity’? More patients/less time? Hang on do they control this? No, they do not. Healthcare is demand-driven and resiticted by facilities and organisation. Again, that is subjective and to do better, they need better organisation, procedures, scheduling and so on.

Let us try another one: Social workers. What is ‘productivity’? Working through more cases? Hardly a positive outcome, you would think. What is better resolving three difficult situations over a week, or popping in to see two dozen troubled folk to clip the ticket? What else can we do? Look at outcomes? Again, that is subjective and relies on policy, procedure, organisation and so on.

Where else do we find the front line: at our borders. What is ‘productivity’ there? Letting more people through? Obviously not. What else can we do? We look at outcomes: Less bad people/contraband getting through? Again, that is subjective and relies on policy, procedure, organisation and so on.

What is the common thread here? If you have not seen it, it is that the productivity of the front line, and the facility to measure it, is the ‘bureaucracy’. Those worthless folk that we are trying to get rid of. How do you measure performance if you have no measures and no one to measure? How do you improve performance (and justify those higher wages) if you get rid of all the people looking at the problems and working out solutions (those detested policy analysts)?

This bodes ill for our public service. That is what happens when you have a Government in the governing business, not in the business of governing.
-Maynard J

24 comments on “The productivity shell-game ”

  1. Ari 1

    Good post, don’t see much to add. 🙂

  2. Maynard J 2

    That comment was in response to this exchange:

    “Grant Robertson: Does the Minister accept that imposing a pay freeze will actually make it harder to provide the smarter, better public services that he wants, because it will be harder to retain and recruit skilled staff in areas of essential need where there is international demand, such as that for nurses and social workers?

    Hon BILL ENGLISH: The member is showing how completely out of touch the Labour Party is with the real world. The fact is that turnover rates in the public sector have dropped to historical lows, and it is going to be necessary to ensure that any pay increases are met with productivity gains. Productivity in the public sector over the last 7 or 8 years has been appalling. That will have to change, because if it does not change we will not be able to offer the range of services that the public deserve.”

    I was wondering what measures Bill English used to work out that productivity in the public sector over the last 7 or 8 years has been appalling.

  3. snoozer 3

    Isn’t it weird how John Maynard Keynes and Maynard James Keenan have such similiar names?

  4. Edosan 4

    Snoozer, are you saying that John Maynard Keynes was named after Maynard James Keenan?

    • snoozer 4.1

      That’s what I’m implying.

      Think about it. If your name was Keynes and your son was going to grow up to be one of the greatest economists of all time, wouldn’t you name him in a way that resembles the name of one of metal’s greatest vocalists?

  5. sally 5

    What Ari said – great post.

  6. r0b 6

    Good stuff. I have always had difficulty interpreting the concept of “productivity”. Right wingers seem to use it as a kind of general purpose excuse for keeping wages down – “wages can only increase if productivity increases” – but what does that mean if productivity cannot be defined or measured?

    In short, I’m hoping someone who understands and believes in the concept will step up in this thread and try to answer some of the questions that you raise and convince us that (beyond the manufacture of countable widgets) productivity is a meaningful and measurable concept in the real world.

  7. Ianmac 7

    Good post.
    Remember the beaurocrats are wasteful bludgers like those on the dole! Lets get rid of both and thus the frontline staff will blossom.
    Hey! How about a growth industry in faux patients? We could have teams of fit and healthy people who for a small fee say about $50 a time, we could front up as “patients” at A&E and could get processed in 60 seconds flat and thus produce stats which show that Tony has worked miracles! Brilliant. What would these teams be called? Ummm?

    • Pascal's bookie 7.1

      Producitivity Oriented Teams Engaging Medicine’s Key Industry Nodes. ?

      • Ianmac 7.1.1

        POTEMKIN. Good!
        How about: Productivity Orientated Key Engaging Industry Needs Fun ?

  8. Maggie 8

    In an earlier life I was involved in dealing with the finance industry when the banking gurus became obsessed with the “pay for perfoirmance” concept for branch staff.

    It was hilarious watching them trying to explain how performance and productivity could be measured for people whose major role was customer service. If you normally smiled at customers once every five minutes, would you get a bonus if you smiled TWICE every five minutes?

    Of course all the “targets” quickly became sales targets. If you were a smart seller of products customers neither needed nor wanted, you got the money, if your strength was in providing service rather than a glib sales patter, then you missed out.

    The whole game descended into farce when one of the major banks, with not a glimmer of a smile, proposed setting sales targets for superannuation products to staff working in a bank branch on the campus of a major university.

    If you couldn’t sell superannuation to a student whose main financial preoccupation was seeing if he could squeeze enough dosh out of his bank account to get pissed on Friday nights you were considered to be a poor performer.

  9. Mike Collins 9

    Increasing productivity does not necessarily mean more outputs at the end of the day, just more outputs per inputs. It is possible to deliver more while still being less productive.

    Taking health as an example, billions of extra dollars (inputs) were pumped in over the term of the Labour govt for some, but disproportionately smaller, increase in outputs (such as reduction of real waiting lists). This consequently massively reduced productivity. Now that doesn’t mean it is the fault of frontline staff at all, but this needs to be taken in context when discussing pay rounds in a recession and limited resources – ie where are the priorities? Paying the staff more, or delivering better return for taxpayers?

    I don’t accept that staff have no control over their productivity though. Staff can impact on productivity in a number of ways. Working faster or more diligently is one way but generally not the best way to achieve large productivity gains. Process improvements, cutting out unnecessary admin etc can all have a profound impact on productivity. A good employer will encourage their employees to be part of a process of continual improvement for productivity’s sake. After all it is those at the front lines that know where the delays come from, tap into that knowledge. In that respect, public sector staff can play a big part themselves in increasing productivity – by continually pointing out to their managers what the barriers to doing their job more effectively are, thus allowing their managers to work on removing those impediments.

    The private sector organisation I work for actively encourages these discussions, and celebrates suggestions for efficiency gains. The thing is, if you have a culture that you can’t change – you won’t.

  10. Mike Collins 10

    I’m not sure Draco – I don’t work in the public sector. However I wouldn’t mind betting that, just like the private sector, not all public sector entities would encourage this sort of discussion.

    The main point of my comment however was to answer an appeal from others above where they ask what productivity (gains) mean in the public sector. I was hoping to have demonstrated what they could look like. As well as discussing the simple yet complicated subject of productivity itself as I understand it, as some people mentioned they have trouble with the concept.

  11. Jasper 11

    You can’t measure productivity when it’s a public service. Simple as that. Public Services are there for the public. Where should throughput/output come into it?

    The health issue is a wonderful fallacy. In the time that Labour were in government, the average admission rates of hospitals remained the same, but people were staying there for longer. Why? Older people who were frail..

    It’s going to be the same story in the next 15 years. More money thrown at health, but no real change happening due to the increase of pensioners choosing to make up ailments in order to actually get a bed, someone to check on them, and heating. All things that they can’t afford at home due to the likes of Bridgecorp taking their life savings.

    • Mike Collins 11.1

      That sort of cynical answer is not very constructive Jasper and would tend to suggest a closed mind to the discussion.*

      Consider the following real life example of improved productivity gains. This was mentioned internally in a bank in the last couple of years and the staff member who suggested the change celebrated.

      The credit card operations team dealt with credit card applications, and upgrade applications to existing credit card plans (sent out as invitations by the bank). They used to manually type in the details of each application taking about 2-5 mins per application. Now this was double handling – as the bank already had the details on file from which to generate the invitation in the first place. One bright spark thought there had to be a better way and suggested barcoding on the invitation letters – with a scanner quickly being able to retrieve the details. As you can imagine this saved hundreds of man hours of data entry each year, freeing the staff up for other activities.

      Note I am sketchy on the details of the story but the essence remains. Basically if you have the right culture, and seek to improve processes or the way you work, then you can improve productivity. I am yet to come across any person or organisation that is beyond improvement.

      Saying that the public sector shouldn’t be held to productivity gains is a cop out for those that are adverse to change.

      * Edit – it appears you have taken down/amended your original comment.

      • Maggie 11.1.1

        Mike, your credit card operations example simply demonstrates that it is possible to achieve productivity gains in many back room operations by working smarter.

        But attempting to do that with the front line staff who have direct contact with the public, is much more difficult.

        Call centres try to do it by measuring the time an operator takes to answer a call and to deal with a call, in the mistaken view that quicker is always better.

        The banks found it impossible to measure objectively standards of service, in fact they weren’t interested. What they could measure, and wanted to measure, was sales, and that is what they focussed upon.

  12. Mike Collins 12

    “You can’t measure productivity when it’s a public service. Simple as that. Public Services are there for the public. Where should throughput/output come into it?”

    Sure you can – you just don’t know how.

    A simple way of analysing how to achieve productivity gains would go like follows (and obviously this would be a lot more rigorous in pratice):

    1. Identify what you want more of ie. more elective surgery.
    2. Identify what is holding you back from delivering on that outcome ie. Form filling before and after operations takes up 50% of clinician’s time.
    3. Identify via cost-benefit analysis whether the form filling is necessary for the clinician to undertake, if this could be undertaken by a lower paid underling, or scrapped entirely.
    4. Implement solutions identified in 3. or move on satisfied that best practice is currently being implemented, but mindful that things could change in the future presenting new opportunities for improvement.

    Just because a service is termed a “public service” it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be measured by what it delivers. In fact I would say that this is more important in the public service than an equivalent in the private sector (private hospitals for example). At least with the private sector, inefficiencies will be reflected in price and/or service and the customer has an opportunity to take his or her business elsewhere. The taxpayer who funds this public service deserves to know that they are getting value for money – especially in a recession.

    • Maynard J 12.1

      A couple of short points Mike.

      1- yes you can often increase individual productivity and make those quick wins. They usually save a few minutes of an iterative process and get the individual who thought of it gets a pat on the back and a good story to tell at their next job interview.

      1a- They are rarely the type of gains that win people pay rises or attract the attention of a hostile employer/government.

      1b- to really increase productivity you need expertise; you need to free the operational staff from their daily tasks if you want them to do it (or provide SME input) or you need a dedicated team to do it. In the private sector, this dedicated team is usually a project team. In the public sector these teams are the bonfire candidates referred to as ‘the bureaucracy’.

      2- there is a difference between calling for increased productivity and demanding pay increases are related to it. One is a good idea and can lead to efficient practices and innovation. The other leads to reduced service, lowered standards and dangerous shortcuts.

      Sure, some form of performance measure is needed as it is a key factor in accountability. What is very important is that the performance measure does not degrade performance itself – and this is the case when you go for a productivity/sales target type of measure.

      Be wary of the upshot of that culture of change, especially the negative one English is promoting.

      3- your example for a doctor is an example where there is an obvious saving. Most would not be so clear and, as my original comment was to point out – to get anything meaninful you need that bureaucracy again.

      3a- after that productivity gain you suggested, would you still decide whether the doctors who have benfitted from that gain get a pay rise based on the number of operations they do? Or the ‘quality’ of them? Or another measure? And how will you know that there are no other fators affecting that productivity?

      What people are after here is not how you raise productivity, but how you define it and how you measure it.

      Another thought: You remember what a problem with the public service was in the late 1990s? No one knew what it did, or what they would be eligible for, what services it could provide. What would remedy that? Communications experts. FF to 2008 and what have we got? Too many ‘spin doctors’ (communications advisors), apparently. Just another example of how improving productivity is spun in a negative light.

      Apply the same thought experiment to other areas of the public service and you will get the same results: policy analysts would be a classic example. Somewhat ironically, National just spent an election attacking the very areas it thinks it needs now.

      edit…er…so much for ‘short’ points! 😛

  13. Galeandra 13

    “The fact is that turnover rates in the public sector have dropped to historical lows, and it is going to be necessary to ensure that any pay increases are met with productivity gains. Productivity in the public sector over the last 7 or 8 years has been appalling. That will have to change, because if it does not change we will not be able to offer the range of services that the public deserve.’

    I think English’s comments are simply a replay of the ‘bloated bureaucracy’ propaganda run over the last electoral cycle, and as much to do with tickling the breast feathers of the Joe Averages who bought that line, as with reducing wage expectations in general. With apologies to Willy S, he’s ‘beat(ing) the dog t’affright the imperious lion.’

    I have to say I thought better of him than these comments show. Of course, hard cop may become more appealing to the electorate as times get tougher, and soft cop Jonkey’s bland reassurances wear thin. Maybe his phoenix will rise again out of bureaucratic scorched earth.

  14. Mike Collins 14

    Maggie, refer to my comment at 5.22pm 7/7 as to how it is possible to improve processes to ensure frontline staff are, well, at the frontlines. The key thing to process improvement is wanting to change for the better, and being encouraged to think and contribute to changes. That’s what my example was meant to show (staff initiated productivity changes). At the end of the day, it is those at the frontlines that know their job best – and what the barriers are to achieving the priorities of their roles.

    I have recently gone through the same exercise with my employer. I am a frontline staff member at a bank and I wholeheartedly dispute your comment that banks don’t care about providing and objectively measuring service. It is part of our mission statement to delight customers and there are a number of strategic initiatives in place to achieve and measure this. Net promoter score is a way of measuring the trends, benchmarked against competitors for example. This is taken very very seriously. After all, the only difference, that will make a difference, when there is no difference, is service.

    At the end of the day banks, like any other viable institution need to make a profit. Achieving sales is part of that, and rightly so should be measured and be a core component of roles. However more and more businesses, banks included, are waking up to the fact that in order to be successful in returning profit you must have a happy and satisfied customer base. Especially in a competitive environment. Why else have we seen the reversal of wholesale branch closures and an actual net increase in bank branches?

    • Maynard J 14.1

      Why do sales people always try to pressure people in to buying things? I almost universally dismiss sales staff and avoid customer-facing situations because I know the person will try to sell me something because of their target, not because of my needs.

      Remember that it might be more profitable to annoy a few but pressure the weaker into sales, rather than be nice to all.

      Goes both ways – and you do not get to shop around with the public service.

  15. Mike Collins 15

    “Why do sales people always try to pressure people in to buying things? I almost universally dismiss sales staff and avoid customer-facing situations because I know the person will try to sell me something because of their target, not because of my needs.

    Remember that it might be more profitable to annoy a few but pressure the weaker into sales, rather than be nice to all.”

    I find that a needs based sales approach is more effective. If I can’t provide something that meets someones needs, saves them money, or provides efficiency gains, then I will tell them upfront. People appreciate that and (hopefully) as a result respect your advice. And yes I do have sales targets.

  16. randal 16

    all good stuff folks.
    but this is just going to be a one term administration.
    New Zealand cannot function properly when it is being thrashed by robber barons.

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    We are still in France, getting from A to B.Possibly for only another week, though; Switzerland and Germany are looming now. On we pedal, towards Budapest, at about 20 km per hour.What are are mostly doing is inhaling a country, loving its ways and its food. Rolling, talking, quietly thinking. ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • Hipkins is still useless
    The big problem with the last Labour government was that they were chickenshits who did nothing with the absolute majority we had given them. They governed as if they were scared of their own shadows, afraid of making decisions lest it upset someone - usually someone who would never have ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Exercising with the IDF.
    This morning I did something I seldom do, I looked at the Twitter newsfeed. Normally I take the approach of something that I’m not sure is an American urban legend, or genuinely something kids do over there. The infamous bag of dog poo on the front porch, set it on ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • Helm Hammerhand Anime: First Pictures and an Old English ‘Hera’
    We have some news on the upcoming War of the Rohirrim anime. It will apparently be two and a half hours in length, with Peter Jackson as Executive Producer, and Helm’s daughter Hera will be the main character. Also, pictures: The bloke in the middle picture is Freca’s ...
    6 days ago
  • Farmers get free pass on climate AND get subsidies
    The cows will keep burping and farting and climate change will keep accelerating - but farmers can stop worrying about being included in the ETS. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Wednesday, June 12 were:The ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • Six ideas to secure Te Huia’s Future
    This is a guest post by our friend Darren Davis. It originally appeared on his excellent blog, Adventures in Transitland, which features “musings about public transport and other cool stuff in Aotearoa/ New Zealand and around the globe.” With Te Huia now having funding secure through to 2026, now is ...
    Greater AucklandBy Darren Davis
    6 days ago
  • The methane waka sinks
    In some ways, there may be less than meets the eye to the Government announcement yesterday that the He Waka Eke Noa proposal for farmers to pay for greenhouse gas emissions has been scrapped. The spectre of farmers still having to pay at some point in the future remains. That, ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • At a glance – Does positive feedback necessarily mean runaway warming?
    On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Farmers get what they wanted – for now
    Since entering office, National has unravelled practically every climate policy, leaving us with no effective way of reducing emissions or meeting our emissions budgets beyond magical thinking around the ETS. And today they've announced another step: removing agriculture entirely. At present, following the complete failure of he waka eka noa, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Presumed Innocent?
    The blue billionaireDistraction no interactionOr movement outside these glazed over eyesThe new great divideFew fight the tide to be glorifiedBut will he be satisfied?Can we accept this without zoom?The elephant in the roomNot much happens in politics on a Monday. Bugger all in fact. Although yesterday Christopher Luxon found he ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    7 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on our doomed love affair with oil and gas
    What if New Zealand threw a fossil fuel party, and nobody came? On the weekend, Resources Minister Shane Jones sent out the invitations and strung up the balloons, but will anyone really want to invest big time in resuming oil and gas exploration in our corner of the planet? Yes, ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    7 days ago
  • Building better housing insights
    This is a guest post by Meredith Dale, senior urban designer and strategist at The Urban Advisory. There’s a saying that goes something like: ‘what you measure is what you value’. An RNZ article last week claimed that Auckland was ‘hurting’ because of a more affordable supply of homes, particularly townhouses ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    7 days ago
  • Putin would be proud of them
    A Prime Minister directs his public service to inquire into the actions of the opposition political party which is his harshest critic. Something from Orban's Hungary, or Putin's Russia? No, its happening right here in Aotearoa: Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced the Public Service Commission will launch an ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths
    This is a repost from a Yale Climate Connections article by SueEllen Campbell published on June 3, 2024. The articles listed can help you tell fact from fiction when it comes to solar and wind energy. Some statements you hear about solar and wind energy are just plain false. ...
    1 week ago
  • Juggernaut
    Politics were going on all around us yesterday, and we barely noticed, rolling along canal paths, eating baguettes. It wasn’t until my mate got to the headlines last night that we learned there had been a dismayingly strong far right result in the EU elections and Macron had called a ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Numbers Game.
    Respect Existence, Or Expect Resistance? There may well have been 50,000 pairs of feet “Marching For Nature” down Auckland’s Queen Street on Saturday afternoon, but the figure that impresses the Coalition Government is the 1,450,000 pairs of Auckland feet that were somewhere else.IN THE ERA OF DRONES and Artificial Intelligence, ...
    1 week ago
  • Media Link: AVFA on post-colonial blowback.
    Selwyn Manning and I discuss varieties of post colonial blowback and the implications its has for the rise of the Global South. Counties discussed include Palestine/Israel, France/New Caledonia, England/India, apartheid/post-apartheid South Africa and post-colonial New Zealand. It is a bit … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Policy by panic
    Back in March, Ombudsman Peter Boshier resigned when he hit the statutory retirement age of 72, leaving the country in the awkward (and legally questionable) position of having him continue as a temporay appointee. It apparently took the entire political system by surprise - as evinced by Labour's dick move ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • PSA: NZ's Richest Company, Zuru, Sucks
    Hi,Today the New Zealand press is breathlessly reporting that the owners of toy company Zuru are officially New Zealand’s wealthiest people: Mat and Nick Mowbray worth an estimated $20 billion between them.While the New Zealand press loses its shit celebrating this Kiwi success story, this is a Webworm reminder that ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Monday, June 10
    TL;DR: The six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty in the past day to 8:36 pm on Monday, June 10 were:20,000 protested against the Fast-track approval bill on Saturday in Auckland, but PM Christopher Luxon says ‘sorry, but not sorry’ about the need for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • In Defence of Kāinga Ora
    Given the headlines around the recent findings of the ‘independent’ review of Kāinga Ora by Bill English, you might assume this post will be about social housing, Kāinga Ora’s most prominent role. While that is indeed something that requires defending, I want to talk about the other core purpose of ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    1 week ago
  • Baby You're A Rich Man
    “How does it feel to beOne of the beautiful peopleNow that you know who you areWhat do you want to beAnd have you traveled very far?Far as the eye can see”Yesterday the ACT party faithful were regaled with craven boasts, sneers, and demands for even more at their annual rally.That ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Stopping a future Labour government from shutting down gas exploration
    A defiant Resources Minister Shane Jones has responded to Saturday’s environmental protests by ending Labour’s offshore oil exploration ban and calling for long-term contracts with any successful explorers. The purpose would be to prevent a future Labour Government from reversing any licence the explorers might hold. Jones sees a precedent ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23
    A listing of 32 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 2, 2024 thru Sat, June 8, 2024. Story of the week Our Story of the Week is Yale Climate Connection's Resources for debunking common solar and wind myths, by ...
    1 week ago
  • Fission by the river
    This is where we ate our lunch last Wednesday. Never mind your châteaux and castles and whatnot, we like to enjoy a baguette in the shadow of a nuclear power plant; a station that puts out more than twice as much as Manapouri using nothing more than tiny atoms to bring ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Fact Brief – Is the ocean acidifying?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Is the ocean acidifying? Acidification of oceans ...
    1 week ago
  • 20,000+ on Queen St.
    The largest protest I ever went on was in the mid 90s. There were 10,000 people there that day, and I’ve never forgotten it. An enormous mass of people, chanting together. Stretching block after block, bringing traffic to a halt.But I can’t say that’s the biggest protest I’ve ever been ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Josh Drummond's Columns
    Hi there,I wanted to put all of Josh Drummond’s Webworm pieces all in one place. I love that he writes for Webworm — and all of these are a good read!David.Why Are So Many “Christians” Hellbent on Being Horrible?Why do so many objectively hideous people declare themselves “Christian”?Meeting the Master ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Bernard’s Saturday soliloquy and weekend Pick ‘n’ Mix for June 8/9
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: On reflection, the six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty this week were:The Government-driven freeze in building new classrooms, local roads and water networks in order to save cash for tax cuts is frustrating communities facing massive population ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • The no-vision thing
    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past somewhat interrupted week. Still on the move!Share Read more ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • When Journalists are Disingenuous
    Hi,One of the things I like the most about Webworm is to be able to break down the media and journalism a little, and go behind the scenes.This is one of those times.Yesterday an email arrived in my inbox from journalist Jonathan Milne, who is managing editor at Newsroom.I don’t ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • Me, elsewhere: Just say you’ll do the thing
    Wrote something over at 1/200 on a familiar theme of mine: The way we frame the economy as a separate, sacred force which must be sacrificed to, the way we talk about criminals as invaders who must be repelled, the constant othering of people on the benefit, people not in ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    1 week ago
  • A Voyage Among the Vandals: Accepted
    A nice bit of news today: my 4600-word historical fantasy-horror piece, A Voyage Among the Vandals, has been accepted by Phobica Books (https://www.phobicabooks.co.uk/books) for their upcoming Pirate Horror anthology, Shivering Timbers. This one is set in the Mediterranean, during the mid-fifth century AD. Notable for having one of history’s designated ...
    1 week ago
  • Ministerial conflicts of interest
    Since the National government came to power, it has been surrounded by allegations of conflicts of interest. Firstly, there's the fast-track law, which concentrates power in the hands of three Ministers, some of whom have received donations from companies whose projects they will be deciding on. Secondly, there's the close ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The 2024 Budget Forecasts Are Gloomy Prognosis About The Next Three Years.
    There was no less razzamatazz about the 2024 Budget than about earlier ones. Once again the underlying economic analysis got lost. It deserves more attention.Just to remind you, the Budget Economic and Fiscal Update (BEFU), is the Treasury’s independent assessment and so can be analysed by other competent economists (although ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • A government that can't see twenty feet ahead
    There are two failings that consistently characterise a National government. One is a lack of imagination, the other is their willingness to look after their mates, no matter what harm it might do to everyone else.This is how we come to have thousands of enormous trucks carving up our roads. ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    2 weeks ago
  • A post I hope is incorrect
    In May, we learned that National MP David MacLeod had "forgotten" to declare $178,000 in electoral donations. Filing a donation return which is false in any material particular is a crime, and the Electoral Commission has now referred MacLeod to police, since they're the only people who are allowed to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Cannot Re-Write New Zealand’s Constitution By Stealth.
    The Kotahitanga Parliament 1897: A Māori Parliament – at least in the guise of a large and representative body dedicated to describing the shape of New Zealand’s future from a Māori perspective – would be a very good idea.THE DEMAND for a “Māori Parliament” needs to be carefully unpicked. Some Pakeha, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Cowpats and Colonials.
    Dumbtown, is how my friend Gerard refers to people like ZB listeners - he’s not wrong.Normally on a Friday I start by looking at Mike Hosking’s moronic reckons of the week which he vomits down the throats of his audience like helpless baby birds in a nest, grateful for the ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    2 weeks ago
  • Gordon Campbell on cutting the sick leave of vulnerable workers
    Should sick leave be part and parcel of the working conditions from Day One on the job, just like every other health and safety provision? Or should access to sick leave be something that only gradually accumulates, depending on how long a worker has been on the payroll? If enacted ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    2 weeks ago

  • Making it easier to build granny flats
    The Government has today announced that it is making it easier for people to build granny flats, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop say. “Making it easier to build granny flats will make it more affordable for families to live the way that suits them ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • High Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Auckland King’s Counsel Gregory Peter Blanchard as a High Court Judge. Justice Blanchard attended the University of Auckland from 1991 to 1995, graduating with an LLB (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (English). He was a solicitor with the firm that is now Dentons ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Health workforce numbers rise
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says new data released today shows encouraging growth in the health workforce, with a continued increase in the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives joining Health New Zealand. “Frontline healthcare workers are the beating heart of the healthcare system. Increasing and retaining our health workforce ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government to overhaul firearms laws
    Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee has today announced a comprehensive programme to reform New Zealand's outdated and complicated firearms laws. “The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, today announced the official launch of Negotiations on Services Trade between the two countries.  “The Government is focused on opening doors for services exporters to grow the New Zealand’s economy,” Mr McClay says.  As part of the 2022 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Upgrade ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon meets with Premier Li
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Government House in Wellington today.  “I was pleased to welcome Premier Li to Wellington for his first official visit, which marks 10 years since New Zealand and China established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Mr Luxon says. “The Premier and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government and business tackling gender pay gap
    The coalition Government is taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in New Zealand through the development of a voluntary calculation tool. “Gender pay gaps have impacted women for decades, which is why we need to continue to drive change in New Zealand,” Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Funding Boost for Rural Support Trusts
    The coalition Government is boosting funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide more help to farmers and growers under pressure, Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson announced today. “A strong and thriving agricultural sector is crucial to the New Zealand economy and one of the ways to support it is to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Latest data shows size of public service decreasing
    Spending on contractors and consultants continues to fall and the size of the Public Service workforce has started to decrease after years of growth, according to the latest data released today by the Public Service Commission. Workforce data for the quarter from 31 December 23 to 31 March 24 shows ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Speech to the Law Association
    Thank you to the Law Association for inviting me to speak this morning. As a former president under its previous name — the Auckland District Law Society — I take particular satisfaction in seeing this organisation, and its members, in such good heart. As Attorney-General, I am grateful for these ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • 25 years on, NZ reaffirms enduring friendship with Timor Leste
    New Zealand is committed to working closely with Timor-Leste to support its prosperity and resilience, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “This year is the 25th anniversary of New Zealand sending peacekeepers to Timor-Leste, who contributed to the country’s stabilisation and ultimately its independence,” Mr Peters says.    “A quarter ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Inquiry requested into rural banking
    Promoting robust competition in the banking sector is vital to rebuilding the economy, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  “New Zealanders deserve a banking sector that is as competitive as possible. Banking services play an important role in our communities and in the economy. Kiwis rely on access to lending when ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Ministry for Regulation targets red tape to keep farmers and growers competitive
    Regulation Minister David Seymour, Environment Minister Penny Simmonds, and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard have today announced a regulatory sector review on the approval process for new agricultural and horticultural products.    “Red tape stops farmers and growers from getting access to products that have been approved by other OECD countries. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government to reverse blanket speed limit reductions
    The Coalition Government will reverse Labour’s blanket speed limit reductions by 1 July 2025 through a new Land Transport Rule released for public consultation today, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  The draft speed limit rule will deliver on the National-ACT coalition commitment to reverse the previous government’s blanket speed limit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Chair appointments for NZSO, CNZ and NZ On Air
    Minister Paul Goldsmith is making major leadership changes within both his Arts and Media portfolios. “I am delighted to announce Carmel Walsh will be officially stepping into the role of Chair of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, having been acting Chair since April,” Arts Minister Paul Goldsmith says.  “Carmel is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government focus on long-term food, fibre growth
    Food and fibre export revenue is tipped to reach $54.6 billion this year and hit a record $66.6b in 2028 as the Government focuses on getting better access to markets and cutting red tape, Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones say. “This achievement is testament ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt consulting on cutting red tape for exporters
    A new export exemption proposal for food businesses demonstrates the coalition Government’s commitment to reducing regulatory barriers for industry and increasing the value of New Zealand exports, which gets safe New Zealand food to more markets, says Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The coalition Government has listened to the concerns ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand and Philippines elevating relationship
    New Zealand and Philippines are continuing to elevate our relationship, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “The leaders of New Zealand and Philippines agreed in April 2024 to lift our relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership by 2026,” Mr Peters says. “Our visit to Manila this week has been an excellent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Paid Parental Leave increase to help families
    Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Brooke van Velden says paid parental leave increase from 1 July will put more money in the pockets of Kiwi parents and give them extra support as they take precious time off to bond with their newborns. The increase takes effect from 1 July 2024 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Defence increases UN Command commitment
    The number of New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel deployed to the Republic of Korea is increasing, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today.  NZDF will deploy up to 41 additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of its contribution to the United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand to attend 'Summit on Peace in Ukraine' in Switzerland
    New Zealand will be represented at the Summit on Peace in Ukraine by Minister Mark Mitchell in Switzerland later this week.    “New Zealand strongly supports Ukraine’s efforts to build a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace,” Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Minister Mitchell is a senior Cabinet Minister and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Big step forward for M.bovis programme
    Farmers’ hard work is paying off in the fight against Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis) with the move to a national pest management plan marking strong progress in the eradication effort, says Biosecurity Minister Andrew Hoggard.  “The plan, approved by the Coalition Government, was proposed by the programme partners DairyNZ, Beef ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Build To Rent opening welcomed by Housing Minister
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Housing Minister Chris Bishop formally opened a new Build to Rent development in Mt Wellington this morning. “The Prime Minister and I were honoured to cut the ribbon of Resido, New Zealand’s largest Build to Rent development to date.  “Build to Rent housing, like the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Agriculture to come out of the ETS
    The Government will deliver on its election commitment to take agriculture out of the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) and will establish a new Pastoral Sector Group to constructively tackle biogenic methane, Coalition Government Agriculture and Climate Change Ministers say. Agriculture Minister Todd McClay says New Zealand farmers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Luxon Tokyo-bound for political and business visit
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon will travel to Japan from 16-20 June, his first visit as Prime Minister.   “Japan is incredibly important to New Zealand's prosperity. It is the world’s fourth largest economy, and our fourth largest export destination.  “As you know, growing the economy is my number one priority. A strong economy means ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Bayly travels to Singapore for scam prevention meetings
    Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Andrew Bayly, travels to Singapore today to attend scam and fraud prevention meetings. “Scams are a growing international problem, and we are not immune in New Zealand. Organised criminal networks operate across borders, and we need to work with our Asia-Pacific partners to tackle ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • More help for homeowners impacted by severe weather
    People who were displaced by severe weather events in 2022 and 2023 will be supported by the extension of Temporary Accommodation Assistance through to 30 June 2025. Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says the coalition Government is continuing to help to those who were forced out of their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government to reverse oil and gas exploration ban
    Removing the ban on petroleum exploration beyond onshore Taranaki is part of a suite of proposed amendments to the Crown Minerals Act to deal with the energy security challenges posed by rapidly declining natural gas reserves, Resources Minister Shane Jones says. “Natural gas is critical to keeping our lights on ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand and Malaysia to intensify connections
    New Zealand and Malaysia intend to intensify their long-standing, deep connections, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “Malaysia is one of New Zealand’s oldest friends in South-East Asia – and both countries intend to get more out of the relationship," Mr Peters says.   "Our connections already run deep and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ending contracted emergency housing motels in Rotorua
    The end of Contracted Emergency Housing (CEH) motels in Rotorua is nearing another milestone as the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announces it will not renew consents for six of the original 13 motels, Associate Housing Minister Tama Potaka says. The government is committed to stop using CEH ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First Home Grant closure exemptions
    The Government is providing a narrow exemption from the discontinuation of the First Home Grant for first home buyers who may face unfair situations as a result, Housing Minister Chris Bishop says. “The First Home Grant scheme was closed with immediate effect on 22 May 2024, with savings being reprioritised ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Faster consenting for flood protection projects in Hawke's Bay
    Work to increase flood resilience in Hawke’s Bay can start sooner, thanks to a new fast consenting process, Minister for Emergency Management and Recovery Mark Mitchell and Environment Minister Penny Simmonds say.  “Faster consenting means work to build stop banks, spillways and other infrastructure can get underway sooner, increasing flood ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Judge Craig Coxhead and Nathan Milner newest Māori Land Court appointments
    Tangata tū tangata ora, tangata noho tangata mate. Minister for Māori Development Tama Potaka today announced acting Deputy Chief Judge Craig Coxhead as the new Deputy Chief Judge, and Nathan Milner as Judge of the Māori Land Court. "I want to congratulate Judge Coxhead and Mr Milner on their appointments ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government signs Indo-Pacific Economic agreements to boost trade
    Trade Minister Todd McClay and Climate Change Minister Simon Watts, today signed three Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) agreements that will boost investment, grow New Zealand’s digital and green economies and increase trade between New Zealand and the 14 IPEF partners. IPEF’s partners represent 40 per cent of global GDP ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago

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