web analytics

Tip of the spear

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, June 2nd, 2009 - 16 comments
Categories: Media, national, spin - Tags: , , ,

You’ve done your job as a spin doctor when journalists start repeating your spin sub-consciously.

The credit downgrade ‘issue’ is a great example. There was never any threat of a downgrade, as long as the tax cuts were dropped. The journalists all acted like there was a huge threat. They parroted the government’s line that the Budget had to avoid this non-existent threat at all costs. Then praised the government for seeing off the bogeyman.

Some even got so caught up that they said S & P had upgraded our credit because it took us off negative watch (which is just a warning that we might have been downgraded at some point in the future). Funny because no-one said we were downgraded when we went on to negative watch in in February. Going on to negative watch wasn’t a downgrade. Coming off it can’t be an upgrade.

Actually, this post is meant to be about another line. The ‘frontline’. You’re starting to see this line mindlessly repeated in the media too. ’70 jobs cut from IT at ACC to move resources to the frontline’. Good spin bypasses your targets’ critical faculties and that’s what this line is doing. No thinking person would take the line seriously because it implies that all an organisation needs are service deliverers and that people supporting that delivery are pointless but the media are acting as if that’s the case.

An analogy. The US army has combat squads. The ‘frontline’ of its ‘service delivery’. Known as the tip of the spear. For every member of a combat unit whose job is to actually fight the enemy there are more than ten soldiers in what Key would call ‘back office’ jobs. All modern armies are the same. Very few actual ‘war-fighters’ backed by a large support system. Now, an idiot might say ‘put more of those useless support people at the front’. Any sensible commander, though, knows its better to have, say, a 50-man vehicle maintenance crew then 50 more combat soldiers and unreliable vehicles. There’s far more value-added to combat units’ ability to fought by having an effect support system than having an army full of combat troops with no support system. The combat troops are the tip of the spear but that’s nothing without the shaft behind it.

Simply pouring all your resources into the frontline doesn’t always make sense. Its what armies do as an absolute last resort when they’ve already lost. In terms of the public service, what’s going to happen now when ACC’s IT systems go down? Are ‘frontline’ staff going to have to try to solve the problems themselves, inefficiently and ineffectively? Are they going to have to try to get in contractors who don’t know the system, while ‘frontline’ staff sit idle at their useless computers? It’s stupid to even talk of a frontline really. The service deliverers are part of an interdependent system. Each part is needed to provide the service effectively and efficiently.

The dumb thing is that we have been down this path before, We know where it ends. National gutted the public service last time it was on office too. Left us with a system that could barely do the basics like carry out an election.

16 comments on “Tip of the spear”

  1. Jono 1

    An example from DOC, where I used to work (fron memory).

    The Conservancy which manages 150,000 ha has ~150 staff and an annual budget of about $12 million. The Conservancy has four area offices doing delivery and one conservancy office providing support.

    In the Area offices there are:
    60 frontline/field staff focussed on doing delivery in the field
    50 staff with mixed rolls involving mostly delivery and some management (of small budgets, projects or the staff above on a day to day level)
    24 Programme Managers managing 6-8 staff from the above
    4 Area managers with the delegated authorities and accountabilities for the abo

    In the Conservancy there are:
    20 specialist technical support staff providing service to the above and support via the Conservator to Head Office (eg RMA and planning, terrestrial and marine biodiversity, flora and fauna, historic advice etc)
    10 GIS, finance and admin staff providing service to the above and support via the Conservator to Head Office
    1 Conservator managing the whole shebang

    Question 1 Who is front office and who is back office?
    Question 2 How is this different in terms of ratios of front to back office staff to the private sector, and
    Question 3 if this isnt the ideal ratio of front to back office as exhibited by the private sector, what is?

  2. Bill 2

    “John A. Yarmuth, a Democrat from Kentucky, chose to read aloud from an instant-message conversation between two S&P employees in the firm’s structured product division.

    Official 1: By the way, that deal is ridiculous

    Official 2: I know, right. The model definitely doesn’t capture half the risk.

    Official 1: We should not be rating it

    Official 2: We rate every deal. It could be structured by cows and we would rate it

    Official 1: There is a lot of risk associated with it. I personally don’t feel comfy signing off as a committee member”

    And the security was rated

    http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/22/rating-agencies-draw-fire-capitol-hill/

    That’s the same S&P that the Nats posit as sages? The same S&P who threatened Bitains AAA rating? The same S&P the msm in NZ are taking seriously?

    • Phil (not Goff) 2.1

      This is pretty ignorant from someone supposedly as smart as a Democratic congressman.

      Anyone with half a brain will know that S&P don’t just take a big stamp and thump “AAA” of “BB+” on a piece of paper after banging some numbers into a calculator. There’s a lot of background work, and then fairly detailed documentation that is published with the rating. I would be 99% confident that these ‘uncalculable’ risks would have been noted, discussed, and disclosed in the final report attached to the rating.

      If you, or I, or a congressman from Kentucy, don’t bother reading the report…

  3. This is a very good post. so ta

  4. fyi, in 99 when Labour came into govt, some govt departments had to hire external consultants to come in to prepare BIMs (briefing for incoming ministers) because the departments had been so run down in the 1990s they didn’t have the skill or capacity to do it themselves. Lets hope it doesn’t get to that level this time around

  5. Lanthanide 5

    “There was never any threat of a downgrade, as long as the tax cuts were dropped.”

    Proof please.

    • Maynard J 5.1

      The proof is in your tears.

      Maybe you should have a go at rebutting the statement before making demands. Give people a reason to listen to you.

      • Lanthanide 5.1.1

        No, I just want proof. He’s going on about spin, and makes his own spin statement with nothing in support of it.

        For the record I voted Labour for the last two elections I have been eligible to vote in and I think National are running the country into the ground. Of course that doesn’t give me any more or less grounds to demand proof to support his statements than if I voted Act.

        “Maybe you should have a go at rebutting the statement before making demands.” This is my rebuttal. I want proof it is actually the case. You can’t just blithely assert something that you’d like to be the truth, and then pat yourself on the back for your great analytical skills based on something you just made up.

        • Jasper 5.1.1.1

          http://www.nznewsuk.co.uk/business_news/?ID=15906
          either prioritising its spending or just doing what it needs to do to rein in some of those operating deficits that were articulated in the fiscal and economic update in December.

          In other words, drop the cuts

          http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601068&sid=aBdFh3Fb90sg&refer=home

          Although we view such deficits as not uncommon given the cyclical weakening of tax revenue, market confidence may wane until policy makers articulate a plan for medium-term fiscal consolidation, given country’s external position,’ S&P said.

          So.. weakening tax revenue… medium-term fiscal consolidation…

          In other words, drop the tax cuts, or hike them.

          Captcha: That Tryst.

          Entirely appropriate.

        • Maynard J 5.1.1.2

          Do you think if you offered a reason you believed it to be wrong would be a more useful approach? A demand for proof is no a rebuttal. If you think that a statement is wrong there must be something to make you think so – start with that. These bloggers are not paid to answer your questions (although someone nice like Jasper might do the research you chose not to).

  6. aj 6

    If the human resource was being moved from the backroom to the frontline as claimed nett numbers employed would not change. The fact that people are losing their jobs just shows what BS that line is.

  7. JakeQuinn,
    It WILL get that bad, I hear Ministers on the radio, I hear cost-cutting.
    Vote for change, vote dreanged. ThRedJack

  8. Rex Widerstrom 8

    That’s rather like saying that provided one’s frontline faculties are operating (like, say, speech) there’s no need to have such a lot of energy being wasted on support functions (like, say, logic and reasoning).

    Oh, wait…

  9. Ianmac 9

    There are 3 agencies who give declare credit ratings aren’t there? Only Standard and Poors hinted that things might be a bit shaky. The other two did nothing of the sort.

    • Lindsey 9.1

      National Radio at 5pm news said we had had a credit upgrade! Is this ignorance, stupidity or laziness?

  10. The Baron 10

    Better than your usual partisan rubbish, Zettie…

    Nevertheless, Labour poured utter shedloads of cash into the back of the house during their 9 years, all for no real measurable increase in performance. Health, as always, is the great example here.

    If we borrow your analogy, it sounds like those combat troops have got way, way to much of a maintenance crew – and we all know what an army like that would look like. See these same generals that you hail here understand that things need to be in balance, otherwise tihngs go awry… like a massacre of maintenance crew, cos they have not enough soliders to do the hard yards…

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Govt to protect jobs and businesses with extra support
    In-principle decision to extend wage subsidy to support businesses and protect jobs Support will be nationwide in recognition of Auckland’s position in NZ economy and the impact of Level 2 Mortgage deferral scheme to be extended to support households The Government is taking action to support businesses and protect jobs ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • National Does the Nation a Disservice
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters today called for National Party and Opposition leader Judith Collins to stop undermining democracy. “New Zealanders are sadly being fed a steady stream of misinformation about the pre-election period from the National Party,” said Mr Peters. “Its effect is to sow doubt about the legitimacy ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Speech at the graduation of Wing 340
    Graduation of Wing 340 2pm, 13 August 2020, The Royal New Zealand Police College [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY] Introduction Ladies and gentlemen, it is a privilege to be here today to celebrate the graduation of Wing 340. Let us begin by acknowledging the presence of Coalition Government colleague, Police Minister the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • More Police deployed for COVID efforts
    More Police are being deployed to the frontline to help manage the COVID response, after the graduation today of 56 new officers. “The ceremonies for the graduation of Wing 340 at the Royal New Zealand Police College were trimmed to take account of new Alert Level 2 restrictions in Wellington,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Transitional housing provides much needed support for Taumarunui whānau
                                                                     Transitional housing provides much needed support for Taumarunui whānau   New emergency and transitional homes will help ease a housing shortage in Taumarunui and provide whānau with much needed support, say Māori Development Minister, Nanaia Mahuta and Whānau Ora Minister, Peeni Henare.  The Ministers officially opened five two-bedroom units ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government announces plan to tackle problem plastics and seven single-use plastic items
    Following the success of the phase out of single-use plastic shopping bags, the Government now has plans to phase out more single-use and problem plastics to reduce waste and protect the environment announced Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. The proposals are to phase-out: some hard-to-recycle PVC and polystyrene ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New opportunities for Kōpū marine facilities
    A commercial and industrial site in Thames-Coromandel will receive $8.2 million to revamp its marine-servicing infrastructure and create new economic development opportunities, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has announced. This project is being supported from the $3 billion ‘shovel ready’ fund set aside in Budget 2020 to kick-start the post COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • PM comments on Auckland COVID-19 case
    After 102 days we have our first cases of Covid-19 outside of a Managed Isolation or Quarantine facility in New Zealand. Shortly I will ask Dr Bloomfield to set out the details of the case. While we have all worked incredibly hard to prevent this scenario, we have also planned ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Significant investment in Raukūmara Pae Maunga to prevent Raukūmara forest collapse
    An iwi-Crown approach programme to restore the Raukūmara forest on the East Coast of the North Island and boost employment opportunities for whānau, particularly rangatahi/young people, will receive $34 million funding, Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage has announced. “Raukūmara Pae Maunga is a partnership with Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāti Porou, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New partnership central to delivering more Māori housing
    Government agencies and partners are working closer together to provide more Māori Housing through the Te MAIHI o te Whare Māori – the Māori and Iwi Housing Innovation Framework for Action (MAIHI). MAIHI is a kaupapa Māori approach that drives a system change to give effect and impact on Māori ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Manawatū Gorge replacement highway drives forward
    Site work is soon to begin on Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, the project to replace the former SH3 route through the Manawatū Gorge, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Phil Twyford was today in Woodville at the signing of a formal agreement by members of the Alliance ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pacific Ministers meet to discuss regional economic priorities
    The Pacific Islands Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) begins today and will focus on the major economic and social impacts of COVID-19 on the Pacific.  FEMM is an important congregation of Economic Ministers and senior officials from around the region, and for the first time, the annual meeting will be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Formal apology and payment to George Nepata
    Cabinet has approved a formal apology and ex gratia payment to former soldier George Nepata, announced Defence Minister Ron Mark. This payment is to recognise the New Zealand Defence Force’s failure to provide Mr Nepata with a safe system of work in April 1989 when, as a result of an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Report into Iain Lees-Galloway’s expenditure
    A report undertaken by Ministerial Services into Iain Lees-Galloway’s ministerial expenditure has found no evidence of any inappropriate transactions or spending. Ministerial Services undertook a line by line review of all his expenditure, including staff and spouse expenses for the period 1 January 2019 to 30 June 2020.  “I commissioned ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Managed isolation charges to start 11 August
    Managed isolation charges for returnees will come into force from 12.01am Tuesday 11th August, after they passed their last cabinet milestone today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. “The new charging system balances the rights of New Zealanders to return home and helps reduce pressure on the managed isolation and quarantine ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Update on New Zealand and the Cook Islands travel bubble
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Henry Puna have welcomed the completion of phase one in the establishment of a travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Island. Negotiations on the text of an ‘Arrangement to Facilitate Quarantine-Free Travel ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • One-stop ‘jobs and training’ shop goes live
    The Government has launched a new online, phone and onsite service to help New Zealanders connect to a range of employment support and products for workers and businesses affected by COVID-19, announced Minister of Education Chris Hipkins and Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. Connected.govt.nz is a one-stop-shop for jobseekers, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • MSD security guards to be paid Living Wage
    Security guards contracted to the Ministry of Social Development will be paid at least the Living Wage from next month supporting the Government’s commitment towards fair pay and employment conditions, announced Minister for  Social Development Carmel Sepuloni.   “MSD was  among the first government agencies to pay its employees the living ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New strategy to ensure nature thrives
    The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today launched Te Mana o te Taiao, the Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy - a way forward that envisions Aotearoa New Zealand as a place where ecosystems are healthy and resilient, and people embrace the natural world. “Many of New Zealand’s plants and wildlife species ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Provider Languages Fund will support Pacific Wellbeing approach
    “Pacific languages, cultures and identity are essential to the health, wellbeing and lifetime success of our Pacific peoples and their communities in Aotearoa. The strength and resilience of Pacific Aotearoa is not only vital to their own prosperity but integral to the prosperity of all New Zealanders, and is particularly ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: More funding for schools and boost to construction sector
    ·       $38 million to help schools cover unexpected costs related to COVID-19 ·       $69 million upgrade for online learning ·       $107 million contingency funding to support school construction suppliers facing additional costs due to the lockdown. The Government is releasing $214 million from the COVID-19 response and recovery fund to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Stay safe on the tracks – Rail Safety Week
    Despite the Government installing safety upgrades around the country, people should still take care around rail crossings, said Transport Minister Phil Twyford launching Rail Safety Week. Phil Twyford said installing safety infrastructure is crucial, but we are encouraging people to be more careful around trains too. “We’re making good progress ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government backs Manawatū social housing project
    The Government is providing a cash injection to help Palmerston North City Council complete a programme to provide 78 social housing units for vulnerable tenants. The $4.7 million to build 28 units in the Papaioea Place redevelopment comes from the $3 billion set aside for infrastructure in the Government’s COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Major funding boost for Predator Free Banks Peninsula
    A pest free Banks Peninsula/Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū is one step closer with a $5.11 million boost to accelerate this project and create jobs, announced Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage in Canterbury today. “This is a game changer for this ambitious project to restore the native wildlife and plants on Ōtautahi/Christchurch’s doorstep ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Major investment for indoor sports in Hawke’s Bay
    A Government grant of $6.4 million will expand the Pettigrew Arena in Taradale with new indoor courts of national standard. “The project is likely to take 18 months with approximately 300 people employed through the process,” Grant Robertson said. “The expansion will increase the indoor court space up to 11 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New infrastructure for Far North tourist town
    The Far North tourist destination of Mangonui is to receive Government funding to improve waterfront infrastructure, open up access to the harbour and improve water quality, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has announced. A total of $6.5 million from the $3 billion set aside in the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government remains committed to Women’s Cricket World Cup
    The Government has re-affirmed its commitment to supporting the hosting of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup, which the ICC has delayed from 2021 to 2022. “This is obviously a disappointing decision for cricket players and fans around the world and for the White Ferns and their supporters here at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Green light for Te Awa River Ride in $220m nationwide cycleways investment
    Cyclists and walkers will now have a safer way to get around Taupō, Tūrangi, and between Hamilton and Cambridge, with funding for shared paths and Te Awa River Ride, Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter announced today. “The Te Awa River Ride is the latest part of massive growth ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Six major ‘shovel-ready’ cycleways funded in Christchurch
    Six major cycle routes will be completed in Christchurch thanks to funding from the Government’s investment in shovel-ready infrastructure as part of the COVID-19 recovery Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter announced today. $125 million will be invested to kick-start construction and fund the completion of the following cycleway ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Police facilities for Whanganui
    Plans are underway for a brand new state-of-the-art hub for Whanganui’s justice and social agencies, following confirmation the ageing Whanganui Central Police Station is to be replaced. Police Minister Stuart Nash has announced $25 million in new infrastructure spending to improve facilities for the wider community, and for staff who ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Relativity adjustment for Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu
    An adjustment payment has been made to Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu under the relativity mechanisms in their 1995 and 1997 Treaty of Waitangi settlements, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little announced today. The latest payments to Waikato-Tainui and Ngāi Tahu are $2,700,000 and $2,600,000 respectively to ensure the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Auckland rail upgrades pick up steam
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Transport Minister Phil Twyford today kicked off the start of the Auckland NZ Upgrade Programme rail projects which will support over 400 jobs and help unlock our biggest city. Both ministers marked the start of enabling works on the third main rail line project ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PGF support for Wairoa creates jobs
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment of $3.78 million in Wairoa will create much needed economic stimulus and jobs, Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. PGF projects announced today include: $200,000 loan to Nuhaka Kiwifruit Holdings Ltd (operated by Pine Valley Orchard Ltd) to increase the productivity ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Public and Māori housing to trial renewable energy technology
    Tenants in public and Māori housing may be benefiting from their own affordable renewable energy in future – a fund to trial renewable energy technology for public and Māori housing has today been announced by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods and Associate Minister for Housing (Māori Housing) Nanaia Mahuta. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • $2.7m for Hokianga infrastructure
    Hokianga will receive $2.7 million to redevelop four of its wharves and upgrade its water supply, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. Far North District Council will receive $1.8 million from the Provincial Growth Fund for the work on the wharves. “The work will include the construction of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New fund to support housing and construction sector
    A $350 million Residential Development Response Fund is being established to support the residential construction sector and to minimise the economic impact from COVID-19, the Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods has announced. “The Residential Development Response Fund will help to progress stalled or at-risk developments that support our broader housing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government investment to boost Auckland’s community recycling network
    As part of a broader plan to divert waste from landfill, the Government today announced $10.67 million for new infrastructure as part of the Resource Recovery Network across the Auckland region. “This key investment in Auckland’s community recycling network is part of the Government’s Infrastructure Reference Group ‘shovel ready’ projects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Te Papa transformation starts at Cameron Road
    The Government is investing $45 million in the first stage of an ambitious urban development project for Tauranga that will employ up to 250 people and help the region grow, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says the funding has been allocated out of the $3 billion ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PGF supports Hawke’s Bay community and environmental projects
    The Government is investing more than $1.6 million from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) for a wide range of community and environmental projects in Hawke’s Bay, Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. These announcements today are part of the Government’s commitment to supporting regional economies in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Low-emissions options for heavy transport a step closer
    Getting low-emission trucks on the road is a step closer with investment in infrastructure to support hydrogen vehicles, the Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has announced. The Infrastructure Reference Group has provisionally approved $20 million for New Plymouth company Hiringa Energy to establish a nationwide network of hydrogen-fuelling stations. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago