Thumbs down for Joyce’s ministerial domain

Written By: - Date published: 8:23 am, December 22nd, 2014 - 33 comments
Categories: accountability, business, democracy under attack, employment, housing, Public Private Partnerships, same old national, Steven Joyce, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

A State Services Commission review has delivered a scathing report on Steven Joyce’s “super ministry”: the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) that was the result of amalgamating several pre-existing ministries.


MBIE always looked like Joyce’s little fiefdom, giving him power over some crucial areas of operation, and bringing ministries previously related to the lives of Kiwis work and home lives, into a ministry that foregrounded the interests of “business”. In April 2012 RNZ reported:

The Government will proceed with its plan to merge four agencies into a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The new entity will take over the functions of the Ministries of Economic Development and Science and Innovation and the Departments of Labour and of Building and Housing on 1 July.

Today RNZ reports:

The State Services Commission has delivered a scathing report on the performance of the government’s ‘super ministry’ two years after it was created by merging four government departments.

The commission’s first performance review of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says the ministry has significant external and internal problems.


Out of 32 areas of review, the commission dished out 27 ratings of ‘weak’ or ‘needing development’.

Areas the ministry rated weak in include leadership and governance; leadership and workforce development; improving efficiency and effectiveness; financial management and risk management.

Aspects deemed to need development ranged from leading economic growth (the core reason the ministry was set up) to engagement with ministers.

The best results were five ‘well placed’ ratings for purpose, vision and strategy; asset management; public experiences; Crown Entity monitoring; and supporting the business and innovation system.

The ministry was awarded no ‘strong’ ratings across any of the categories of the review, which took place in late January and early February 2014.

The report says the senior leadership team includes very capable people, but they are not operating well.  Clearly, this indicates the buck stops with the minister with overall responsibility – Steven Joyce.

The working relationship between the MBIE’s senior personnel and the 14 relevant ministers is poor.

Weak HR systems, management and organisation was resulting in frustrations and a high staff turn-over.

As a result, MBIE’s HR, Finance and ICT costs were well above comparable agencies, and its management capability was barely ‘achieving’. There were also high levels of frustration amongst managers.

“Not only are there serious deficiencies in the basic information available to them, they are not confident about when these deficiencies will be addressed,” it said.

RNZ interviewed the former president of  Intitute of Public Administration, Len Cook, who had expected the report to show some deficiencies in MBIE, but not as many as it found.

RNZ interview 1

He says that the ministries that pre-existed MBIE were already very large and complex.  This raises questions about the wisdom of amalgamating them into a super ministry.

Also on today’s Morning Report, RNZ reports that the MBIE is under fire on 2 fronts:

RNZ report 2

Firstly, opposition politicians are highly critical of MBIE’s “handling of the controversial Sky City Casino contract”. The costs of the Convention Centre that Sky City will build in return for gaming concessions has blown out big time: probably by over 100 million dollars to be paid for by the government/tax payers.

Pokie Joyce

Secondly there is the damning report on the operations of the MBIE.

Joyce had promised that the MBIE would provided faster decision making and better leadership for government policies. On these it has failed. Phil O’Reilly does a poor attempt to justify the MBIE’s existence by claiming the poor report just highlights inevitable “teething problems”, and that MBIE is well placed to deliver as promised.

However, this project seems to be a very clumsy and over-blown attempt for Steven Joyce to acquire power and control over a number of ministries.

Furthermore, bringing the departments of Labour and Housing under the umbrella of “business, innovation and employment”, further disempowers ordinary workers and Kiwis. It makes business the main driver, and undermines the interests of workers, workers’ rights, and the rights of all Kiwis to live in affordable and secure housing.


33 comments on “Thumbs down for Joyce’s ministerial domain”

  1. adam 1

    I’m bewildered by the “well placed” for – public experiences – I really am, as my personal and professional experience with this ministry has been at best frustrating, and at worst, an exercise in futility.

    I’m not surprised by the report. What worries me though, is the excuses that will come thick and fast to justify another national party ideological experiment gone wrong.

    • seeker 1.1

      “another…….ideological experiment gone wrong”

      Summed up by the ‘joke’ i heard on “triickle down”…..

      school girl to her mum,”what’s ‘trickle down ?”
      mum, ” it’s when 1% of society get vast amounts of money.”
      school girl, “and then what?”
      mum, “that’s it.”

  2. BLiP 2

    Hey, I know! Lets sit on the report for six months then release it on the Monday before Christmas.

    • KJS0ne 2.1

      That’s an important read there. The report might be scathing, but its release has been timed at a time when they think most people have little time for politics.

    • mac1 2.2

      Like how the news that one seventh of 350 NZ beaches will statistically make you ill if you swim in them ten times was released.

      Merry Christmas!

  3. Bill 3

    So things are panning out just fine then?

    ‘Streamlining’ bureaucratic ministries was only ever going to be about stripping out and crippling. It’s not so much about forming a fiefdom for Joyce or anyone else, as it is about executing a scorched earth policy.

    The ideology says “small state – except where authoritative heft is required to protect those taking due advantage of a wild west creation.”


    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1


    • karol 3.2

      I’d agree with the stripping out and crippling of the state/public sector. I kind of touched on it with the way MBIE foregrounds business.

      But it’s also about authoritarian Joyce.

  4. It’s all right. Darth Joyce will find “other ways” to motivate them.

  5. Disabled Liberation Aotearoa NZ DLANZ 5

    A great article KAROL
    I am glad you’re showing up the same (Bill / Bull English) ‘bullock who is also the Minister of Tertiary Education and was the leading Minister for the Sky Casino which is now facing budget blow outs.. Never mind NOVAPAY and the future of Maori Research after 2015 with impending cuts to Core funding for Nga Pae o te Maramatanga (University of Auckland) . Another further breaching of Te Triti o Waitangi / The Treaty.

    Disabled DLANZ takes the view this man, nor the Cabinet to which he belongs; is NOT capable of passing legislation driven by profit orientated self or collective interests at the expense of ‘others’. iIn our view both NZ Elections showed NO clear mandate and would support an early election. It would help not having to watch further people suffer and further costs in that repair of a community.

    Regards and keep smiling
    Doug Hay
    Cordinator DLANZ

    • tracey 5.1

      Didnt he also oversee the notion that buildings in the CHCHCH rebuild get a waiver on disabled access?

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    The new entity will take over the functions of the Ministries of Economic Development and Science and Innovation and the Departments of Labour and of Building and Housing on 1 July.

    Can’t say that I’m surprised. Those four areas have almost nothing to do with each other. Combining them into a single ministry would inevitably make all four areas worse off.

  7. mac1 7

    “MBIE always looked like Joyce’s little fiefdom, giving him power….”

    That’s the problem. People without the necessary quality acquiring the power.

    Joyce is a very good manipulator, but this report condemns him as a poor administrator of the power that he has.

    It this were a school, this report card would condemn it to be taken over by a Ministerially-appointed commissioner. If it were a business, the shareholders would be very nervous.

    If this were a government Ministry……………………………….?

  8. Tracey 9


  9. just what is joyces’ nixon-esque-cry..?

    ..’i am not a fucken incompetent-idiot..!’..

  10. Once wasTim 11

    “MBIE always looked like Joyce’s little fiefdom, giving him power over some crucial areas of operation, and bringing ministries previously related to the lives of Kiwis work and home lives, into a ministry that foregrounded the interests of “business””

    @ Karol…..
    over the past couple of years you’ll note that I’ve described MoBIE as one of the government’s little fiefdoms (where the vast majority of Public servants work IN SPITE of their Senior Management, rather than because of them}. It’s a bugger’s muddle and I’m sure Joyce designed it to be JUST that way (Business friendly RATHER than citizen friendly, and an opportunity for Senior and some muddle management * to simply ‘clip the ticket’ and utter the spin. Mind you, the SSC calling them out is a bit of
    * (not to mention various immigration ‘consultants’ and heathen lawyers not particularly concerned with ethics – especially ones with ‘mates’ on the inside!

    Look at its various functions FFS and judge for yourself whether their not be various conflicts of interest – and ones that enable unscrupulous employers and private education providers to rort the system. And IF you don’t happen to like it, prepare yourself to find legit consultants and lawyers then be prepared to beat the dawn raids (YES …… they happen – although I think MoBIE has now embarrassed itself to some degree such that continued policy isn’t a good look when if comes time for the government to grovel to the likes of India, China and Brazil.
    It amazes me that some Labour Department employment complaints STILL haven’t been found.
    It amazes me that various visas are STILL tied to one specific employer (including ones that have done a runner).
    It amazes me that STILL we have private tertiary education providers who don’t meet the standards, promise the world (and provide plausible bullshit when Chinese/Brazilian/Indian parents mortgage their houses to borrow tens of thousands) inorder to send their kids to NZ to do courses they think valuable.
    Worse still, when the provider goes belly up and all those promises of providing things like 2 years of work experience RELEVANT to the qualification received!
    Even worse still when a consultant/emloyment law/lawyer with contacts and (I suspect even ‘partners’, AND someone who should feel UTTERLY ashamed)) within the Muntry tries to lecture clients asking for help (AND INCIDENTLY referred to by the paupers’ legal service).
    (The Lecture is the same routine btw …. such as “you bloody Indians/Chinese/Brazilians try it on – coming here and enrolling in your shitty business management courses and then expecting PR” …. when IN FACT ALL they’re expecting is what was promised, AND to operate on a level playing field. AND once its turned to shit, NOT properly investigating (like the ripped off Chinese teenager going on the game to support herself; OR 3 Indian citizens I know of – and who I complained to the old Labour Department) got ripped off – (INCLUDING by people willing to use identity fraud) picking bloody Kiwi fruit and becoming NZ’s saviours and experts on the PSA virus); OR the sons of South American diplomats getting told to prepare to ‘fuck off or face deprtation because they’ve reached adulthood. Guess what. BEFORE Joyce’s brainwave – the proper course of action and procedure was lodged with various agencies (with overpaid and incompetent CEO’s) were followed. Guess what too – those Labour departments ‘got lost’ in the merger or were buried.

    Now needless to say, I haven’t forgotten. Not the old Labour Department PS who lost or buried (probably due to the usual intimidation by the overpaid and incompetentsenior sage, OR his/her senior mgr – desperate in a meeting to appear rational and benevolent when the Muntry had to fork out for deportation after their own deportation, OR the IGNORANCE of two lumbering oxen – one of whom pretended expertise on all things bright and beautiful, the other a uniformed Immigartion enforcement Orifice – including lifestyle and culture of India on the basis of what amounts to a few days’ visit (and not slumming it in a way many of her clients have to. I think IF I’d concentrated on the Chinese student doing the Mermaid’s poll dance. Now, there’s an element of what we might describe as ‘political correctness’ in here – but before you LEAP and cry foul, it’s the kind of ‘political correctness’ and comfort that gives the particular ‘lumbering oxen’s’ demographic enemy opposition ammunition. (I’ve intentionally used certain language to demonstrate various prejudices btw, and I don’t apologise because I personally witness one little outburst of “you bloody Indians”, and heard the smartphone recording of another – whose now deported. Fuck them! and all who sale in them – and don’t moan when negotiating things like FTAs and such crap don’t pan out. Our gubbamint and it’s apparatus has set the tone. (I don’t think I mentioned the fact that one of NZ state’s victims is the son of a prominent Northern Indian poltushun, another I did mention – the son of a Sth American diplomat.
    I also DON’T intend revealing the details (such as complaint numbers, time, dates, names, etc – of both victims and players until AFTER a change of gubbamint, but I also note Labour’s pathetic response so far where (somewhere): probably National’s moaning report, gave platform to some muppet who inferred the bugger’s muddle would be too hard to undo.
    (Actually – I’ve done time as a middle level public servant, and I could assist, save money, provide a more ethical environment, etc. within a VERY VERY short time – and I wouldn’t be expecting an outrageous salary for doing so). I just hope the change in government that provides one concerned with democracy, ethics, its citizenry – comes a wee bit before I get death

    • Once wasTim 11.1

      btw – I’m enraged – so pardon grammatical errors and the like …. because although I find lumbering oxen of a particular demographic sailing on the minority status – I also don;t like bullshit artists or enablers of what amounts to a really really really bad look (even if the lumbering oxen probably do vote L-L-L-L-Labour). I hope I never have to encounter them again – or the wimpish law-firm partner – if he hasn;t already been neutered
      (Yes I’m angry because this whole MoBIE debacle is bullshit, unnecessary, and can only be further propped up by a load of bullshit and lies – which the NZLP seems perfectly prepared to tolerate).

    • Murray Rawshark 11.2

      I saw the substance of Joyce in his debate with Robertson. He’s nothing more than a loud mouth bully and an arrogant fool. Anything done by him would lead to disaster. How the hell do we end up with morans like Joyce, Key, and Brownlee running things?

  11. Tracey 12

    Riddle me this

    How many convention centres do you need to build in a country of 4.1m people to get a world class convention centre?

    • Once wasTim 12.1

      1, or just in case there are timing conflicts – possibly two. Ill-advised to put em next to a Casino as well, unless you’re a Stevie JOOOOYCE type Master of the Universe trying to pathetically ensure ‘his house’ always wins.

      harder they rise ……. harder they fall

  12. Iron Sky 13

    Guns don’t kill people, idiot politicians do!

    Hummm, I wonder what life saving drugs could have been brought for the dosh thats going to be lost by these twats (never mind better educational or safer transport options).

    This conference center is just another Dunedin Stadium……. BS

    Sucks the life out of communities slowly but surely suffocating them. People actually do die (at a distance) from this shit.

    Still, at least those contractors and designers in their posh suits and smart arse glasses mincing around AKL will be able to buy their new flash cars.

    Your more likely to be effected by pricks routing the system than you are going to be hurt by any mythical terrorist. These SOBs are the real terrorists, and no Joyce, you should have been all over that contract. No excuse. The idea sucked from the start.

    • Molly 13.1

      Agree completely. There is no identifiable need for another convention centre in Auckland, and it is unjustifiable.

  13. Peter 14

    MBIE has always been about downsizing and less government, not about service delivery. For NACT it is a raving success.

    • Once was Tim 14.1

      “For NACT it is a raving success” . or so they think. but its yet another example of their short termism. They probably won’t have to worry tho’ because it’ll be the next gubbamint that gets bitten in the bum.
      Before I give Labour a vote in future however, they’ll ekshly have to commit to restoring public service values (which may mean complete de-corporatisation of our government agencies), AND a committment to holding various people responsible for failure to account. I don’t care whether its CERA, the Polis and supposed ‘independent’ complaints authorities (now there’s a total buggerisation of a word), Health, Ejikashun, Broadcasting, Ummigration, Crown Owned Entities and SOE’s – all with overpaid corporate style troughers at the helm – we’ve really created one fucking great mess and kept propping it up over the past 30 years.
      And before some trooooler pops up on a high horse exclaiming oooo oooo oooo how very dare you! – I’ve no objection to being business-friendly – it’s the nudge nudge wink wink monopolistic back hander large corporates, the conflicts of interest, the taking of the electorate for mugs (which may be true), commercial imperatives over people welfare, Roger Bloody Suttons (such a noice guy), Polis Destruct Commanders certainly NOT promoted on merit and over and above available superior alternatives, the promises that were made during the Douglas 80’s reforms resulting in exactly the opposite…….. etc.
      There’s a bundle of shit Labour Party policy could win an election on. I’ve yet to see signs of it emerging

  14. millsy 15

    I think you will find that MOBIE is just a facade. Much of its work has probably been contracted out to the private sector.

    • OncewasTim 15.1

      ……… well they even tried to contract out their responsibilities to me ffs! by trying to get me to ring a little number if I knew of people whose only means of survival was to breach the strict terms of visas (like doing work for an ’employer’ other than defined on their visa. (I wondered how the Chinese student doing lap dances and full massages was coping – but then I realised she’d probably gotten the fuck out of the country just as soon as she raised the airfare). I’ve only ever kept in touch with the Indian and Sth American people I mentioned above – other than experiences with the immigration consultant scams.

  15. saveNZ 16

    No more corporate welfare! Walk away from SkyShitty and make them give back the TVNZ building. The whole affair is so unbelievable no doubt the ‘contract’ will be completely one sided to Sky Shitty as the government wouldn’t know how to hold anybody to account as they are soooooo bad at business contrary to their own discourses. But lets face it, there were probably many ‘backhanders’ and ‘donations’ to make it work. Why have public transport in Auckland, when you can waste money on increasing gambling and have zero hour contracts for staff to boot. You have got to laugh or cry!

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