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Weeding out low quality

Written By: - Date published: 8:02 am, April 24th, 2010 - 56 comments
Categories: bill english, budget 2010, class war, john key, tax, welfare - Tags:

Last month our PM was boldly telling the IMF to back off:

PM rejects IMF call for spending cuts

Prime Minister John Key has rejected suggestions by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the government needs to go further in cutting spending, saying plenty of progress is already being made in that area.

Since then I guess Bill English has told John to go practice his smile-and-wave in the corner, and has set out the government’s actual position:

Spending cuts help Government books

“In the Budget last year, we freed up $2 billion of low quality spending Budget 2010 will have a similar focus on weeding out low quality spending.”

The Nats are looking to cut $1.8 billion over four years. Where from? Last budget it was Adult and Community education (oops, turned out it was great value for money). Last budget it was contributions to the Cullen Fund (ooops again — hey maybe the Nats aren’t so good at picking winners after all). Last budget it was the Prisoner’s Aid and Rehabilitation Society (something that actually does reduce crime for a change). Last budget it was tertiary education funding commitments. And so on and so on.

So what will it be this time? What and who (with the easy arrogance of the party that brought you “Mainstream New Zealanders”) will be deemed to be “low quality” in need of “weeding out”? The only confirmed targets so far are public sector jobs — I expect that the families losing their livelihoods won’t mind though, they’re only low quality jobs after all. What else? Labour’s David Cunliffe seems to have a fair idea of other targets, because he presented a pretty specific list in Parliament (and over at Red Alert):

Hon David Cunliffe: Does his definition of low-quality spending include thousands of elderly in his own electorate who cannot get home help? Does it include dying patients in the Manawatū losing intensive rehabilitation services? Does it include $2 million cut from mental health services in Nelson? Does it include front-line biosecurity jobs, or police cars to get cops to crime?

Nothing but the usual evasions from English in reply of course, so I guess my and your elderly relatives with their home help slashed are low quality in English’s eyes. Nice one. And who needs biosecurity, or police cars? Low quality rubbish.

The Nats are trying to sell this not as cuts, but as “redirecting” funding to “the frontline”, to “health and education”. Bollocks. It’s just as legitimate to claim that they’re redirecting it to the tax cuts for high income earners, which they are desperate to work in to the budget somehow. We can fund health and education without these cuts! But the Nats aren’t going to drop the tax cuts. They aren’t going to cut Bill English’s housing rort or his extra $20pw housecleaning allowance. They aren’t going to cut John Key’s vanity cycleway project. They aren’t going to stop pouring billions into a useless holiday highway. They aren’t going to stop throwing exorbitant payouts at their hand picked mates. They aren’t going to deal with the incompetence of paying to keep empty schools open. That’s all high quality spending you see. Hmmm. Cunliffe again:

“In Mr English’s own electorate, thousands of elderly are having their home support they rely on cut so that rich earners like Mr English can pocket an extra $300 a week. The elderly in his electorate apparently represent low value in terms of services.”

That’s really what it all comes down to folks.

56 comments on “Weeding out low quality”

  1. Craig Glen Eden 1

    This Post sums up what the National Party is all about and just what they are up to in Government. Nice work by David Cunliffe .
    How long before New Zealanders wake up?

  2. TightyRighty 2

    referencing your work based on flawed ideological articles written by yourself and your compatriots? i guess when you believe your own hype you can be your own reference.

    In the meantime, back in the real world, what is wrong with cutting low quality spending? you seem to be in love with the idea of pissing away $2 billion a year. which is two months borrowing at current rates. you might even get back your precious Moroccan cooking and Navajo blanket weaving night classes back if the nats can keep it up.

    • Ari 2.1

      Identify specific examples for us, Tighty, and I’ll debate the merits of those cuts.

      Until then, “low-quality spending” sounds like a euphemism for things this government doesn’t like very much, regardless of their rate of return on investment. (which is what I would imagine is one of the more objective measures of quality of government spending)

      • TightyRighty 2.1.1

        Adult community education. interest free student loans. social welfare. maintaining super where it is. WFF. i needn’t go on. I see trotter is agreeing with me too on the nation

        • Sam

          I love how you just dismiss the independent economic evaluation of these things when it suits you.

          PWC says that ACE is worth up to $74 per dollar spent, if you had bothered to read the article linked you’d see the reference. Show me the evidence that says that interest free student loans is bad for the country. John Key doesn’t seem to think so either, by the way. If investing in our nation’s education is a money poorly spent then it speaks volumes as to the sort of person you are and what you believe in – in a word, despicable.

          Then some vague attacks on welfare and WFF again without a shred of evidence; you might notice, if you bothered to do some reading on a topic you seem to think you know so much about, that the last time welfare was cut poverty and inequality shot through the roof – after the MOAB child poverty rates in all households that depend upon some form of assistance rose dramatically, in households with no income outside of support from the state (which is to say the most vulnerable area of our society) rose from around 20% to more than 75%. In less than a year. Our gini coefficient rose from something around 2.4 to 3.8, 3.9 through the nineties, our unemployment rate was very high, economic growth very low, and crime was the highest than at any other point since records were kept. That’s what happens when you cut welfare and don’t bother investing in education and jobs.

          But hey, who cares about what happened less than 20 years ago, yee-haw let’s take us some money from the state! Pow pow, pow pow, get ‘dem injins!

    • Zetetic 2.2

      Mate. Don’t cry in public. It’s unbecoming.

      But go on. Focus on a few K for Morrocan cooking. Ignore the beam in your eye – cut health services.

      • TightyRighty 2.2.1

        and yet more money than ever has gone into health, and more elective surgeries have been performed, with help from the private sector. hmmmmmm

        • Sam

          Yes because elective surgeries are the be all and end all of the health sector.

        • Irascible

          Paid for from the public purse!
          Private Health sector exists in NZ to dine from the taxpayer and their NACT mates know and support this.– ask McCully & co.

        • Ian

          Yeah like that is sustainable…..

          The national government are systematically disassembling preventative service in favour of ‘front line’ services.

          An analogy – if you service your car, put in the correct fluids, treat it with respect and care, then it last a long time. If you fill it with crap, abuse it and do not service it it breaks and costs a lot to fix.

          Human’s are exactly the same – too many McD’s, too many smoking, too many caged in their cars. Whilst the National government encourages ‘choice’ and detests the nanny state, and whilst they attempt to win votes by stacking stats on how many smokers bypasses they have done, how many obese peoples hips they have replaced, etc., all they are doing is lighting the fuse on a time bomb that future governments will have to atend to.

    • mach1 2.3

      Mum is delighted that the 20 hours of home help, low quality spending, that she needed to care for her and the old fella has been rolled back to 4 hours a week. Now she is unable to manage the old boy at home so off he goes into care at $3700 a month, high quality spending, paid for by the state. Marvelous, the poor old thing was struggling but now she gets to live the life, unburdened.

  3. jcuknz 3

    Have you no faith ROB that the worthy and clever public sector leaders will not make the correct decisions between what some would like and what are really needed in these times of belt tightening?

    Your examples seem to be concentrated on the emotional health sector, always a sure thing for the rabble rousers, when Mr English clearly said that the savings would go to meet the level of need in the Health and Education sectors. Most families are making these decisions of late and it is foolish not to expect similar of the public service.

    • Ari 3.1

      If the decision were in the hands of public sector executives, and they didn’t all have mandated cuts… perhaps. But I highly doubt that’s what will happen.

  4. Murray 4

    For someone that just smiles and waves John Key does seem to “do a lot” to upset the rabid left.
    Amazing how a Do Nothing Prime Minister manages to get things done.

    We all have to tighten our belts these days, its known as survival, and expect the Government to do the same.
    You guys will just have to do without your Moroccan cooking and Navajo blanket weaving night classes for a while. (thanks to TightyRighty)

    • r0b 4.1

      For someone that just smiles and waves John Key does seem to “do a lot’ to upset the rabid left.

      No Murray, not John. He gets overruled all the time by Bill English. Didn’t you read the post?

  5. felix 5

    Were there ever actually any “Moroccan cooking and Navajo blanket weaving night classes” or is this another “Helen Clark said coasters are feral inbreds” or “Key gives his salary to charity” scenario?

    (Still waiting for citations for both of those memes btw)

    • Murray 5.1

      Oh I dont Know, As a West Coaster we were all quite chuffed at being called feral. Coming from Helen it was a compliment,As to the inbred bit, all coaster know from an early age that when your under a table late at night in a west coast pub, you should always check that the woman your with is not your cousin or aunty, especially as you get closer to karamea. sic

      • Captain Rehab 5.1.1

        I think his point is that Helen Clark never said that. And she didn’t. Similarly everyone talks about how Key gives his salary to charity but he doesn’t.

      • felix 5.1.2

        Still waiting for the cite Murray. Tick tock.

        • Murray

          Have a look at Kiwiblog. Its fairly well established that she did make those comments. No matter in what context.
          As a coaster I certainly remember them

          [lprent: Kiwiblog isn’t authoritative. David has a tendency to spin a line on the facts and keep embellishing it regardless of the facts. felix is asking you for an authoritative source with an actual quote, not a DPF repeated embellishment.

          If you want to assert something as fact here, then you have to substantiate it. You have google, you should be able to find the original quote quite easily if it exists. If you can’t and then repeat it, I start to view it as trolling. ]

          • Murray

            The point I was making is that it was pretty well thrashed over on Kiwiblog with plenty of input from posters from the left. There were enough references to news reports and such on kiwiblog to establish that these words were said.
            Even if the words were said out of context it is how they were perceived that mattered

            Get over it and stop trying to rewrite history

            [lprent: That is what felix suspects you are doing – rewriting history.

            Put up, say you can’t substantiate it and it is probably untrue or shutup. But you can’t assert something as fact here and then refuse to back it up.

            I ban for that because it starts stupid flame wars that I have to waste time on. It is easier to get an instigator who can’t substantiate their assertions of fact and dump them out of the conversation. They’re not likely to be able to hold their end up on the debate anyway.

            Read the policy. ]

            • Pascal's bookie

              Should be easy peasy to link to one of those news reports Murray.

              Funny though. Good to see the admission that it’s “fuck the facts, maam, I’ll just let my prejudices determine reality”

            • felix

              Tick tock Murray.

    • r0b 5.2

      Were there ever actually any “Moroccan cooking and Navajo blanket weaving night classes”

      This is another example of right wing morons parroting each other. Tolley started it, but she got it completely wrong. Farrar repeated it, and now his troll farm (hi Murray) keep running round believing it.

      • zonk 5.2.1

        not morons. Nasty cynical pieces of work deliberately labelling and destroying the idea of adult education.

  6. TightyRighty 6

    and I’m still waiting for proof that bretheren don’t have chins. or that a prick can have money and therefore be rich, i thought it was just a rather fun appendage useful for defining, and entertaining, myself.

    • felix 6.1

      Ah yes I forgot about “all rich people are pricks”.

      Got a cite for that? Or any of the others?

      • TightyRighty 6.1.1

        “rich prick” i think was the quote felix.


        • felix

          Yeah everyone knows Cullen called Key a rich prick.

          But you guys have twisted that into “Cullen said everyone with money is a rich prick” or “Cullen said all rich people are pricks”.

          He didn’t. He called Key a rich prick. It’s like me calling you a right-wing idiot.

          I’m still waiting. Citation or backdown. Tick tock.

          • luva

            But you guys have twisted that into “Cullen said everyone with money is a rich prick’ or “Cullen said all rich people are pricks’.

            Citation please

            [lprent: That one is going to be easy. Just search for the phrases here and whoever you’re talking to will find a large number of comments over the last couple of years from a number of people. I’d suggest looking for burt, big bruv, I2, redbaiter, etc. Search for ‘Cullen “rich prick”‘. Pity the search at kiwiblog doesn’t do comments. ]

  7. prism 7

    TR – “you seem to be in love with the idea of pissing away $2 billion a year. which is two months borrowing at current rates. you might even get back your precious Moroccan cooking and Navajo blanket weaving night classes back if the nats can keep it up”.
    What a trusting, naive person you are Tighty Righty. If the NACT government decides anything you just accept its correctness so you don’t have to strain yourself to think.

    This ‘low quality spending’ choice is going to be quite subjective. You mention education outside the main channels under this description. Unfortunately people who are complacent don’t wish to learn anything more, as it might reveal unsettling ignorance. It is ultimately good for the country to have people attemping to extend their knowledge, interests and skills and can lead to creative, innovative personal or business projects.

    It is a necessity to the country to have innovation and people with active minds. The slightly educated colonists in the 1800’s rode to prosperity only on innovative ideas. We need more weaving, and foreign languages and cooking, and chefs learning unique Kiwi recipes which can be enhanced with fusion ideas or contrasted with foreign dishes. We want to be an interesting place for our own and foreign tourists. So we have to stop thinking like an isolated farming community, who think their neighbourhood is busy if two tractors pass in a day or townies who learn to get a job, and then heave a sigh of pleasure that the burden of learning is over.

    • TightyRighty 7.1

      Naive and trusting. I’m not a leftard?

      i believe most government spending to be low quality. so anything done to cut it, or at least move it to frontline services or infrastructure, gets my tick.

      “You mention education outside the main channels under this description. Unfortunately people who are complacent don’t wish to learn anything more, as it might reveal unsettling ignorance. It is ultimately good for the country to have people attemping to extend their knowledge, interests and skills and can lead to creative, innovative personal or business projects.”

      your right, but people should realise that they stand to benefit too, so should pony up for it. that way they prefer to learn some more useful skills. here is a list of courses of community courses in auckland. notice the repeats and useless courses on offer?


      [lprent: Please clothe your links. Then I don’t have to rescue them from the spam trap. See here. ]

      • Descendant Of Smith 7.1.1

        I clicked on quite a few of those links and nearly all have a cost to attending – presumably to pay for the tutor and and equipment / supplies.

        I suspect from courses I’ve been involved with previously that the school makes a small profit from allowing their facilities to be used which also helps the school running costs.

        Using school facilities paid for by the public is also good value given that they belong to the tax payer anyway. After hours use also tends to ensure that there are adult bodies around which helps reduce vanadalism,

        No doubt the repeating of courses also allows for people with different work patterns or different transport needs to attend when and where suits them. Auckland is not the best place to travel from one place to another.

        I thought courses such as blokes in the kitchen, teen ante-natal, financial literacy and gardening basics all address good social needs that we know exist. Others address skill deficiencies _ I find it extremely frustrating employing people who don’t know the basics even of word and excel – there productivity is in most cases below those who do, others are peculiar probably to Auckland – inboard engine maintenance.

        I’m not clear on which ones the school can claim additional funding for I’m personally quite pleased that people have access to such a diverse range of education.

        Couldn’t unforutnately see any “Hi Ho Hi Ho off to the coal mines I go” ones though. I share your anticipated disappointment. Now that’s a course that would fit in with future work force priorities.

      • felix 7.1.2

        notice the repeats and useless courses on offer?

        Care to point out some “useless courses” which are funded by the state? As DoS says, those ones all have fees attached to them.

        Any luck finding a cite for the other memes yet? No?

      • felix 7.1.3

        Probably safe to take that as a “no” then, TR and Murray.

        That’s no we can’t find a reference to “coasters are feral inbreds”

        and no we can’t find a reference to “rich people are pricks”

        and no, we can’t a reference to any useless state-funded night school classes.

        Amazing that you both spent so much time typing things that you can’t back up. At all. In any way.

        You sad little fuckwits.

  8. Ari 8

    You know what’s really low quality spending?

    Untargetted tax cuts, especially for the rich. There’s an incredibly low rate of return. They could return to the tax regime before the election and save themselves a lot of money, AND stimulate the economy by making the tax less regressive. Fat chance on that, of course.

  9. MikeG 9

    hey don’t knock the cycleway – if it’s completed the tourists will be able to cycle the length of the country visiting the new holes in the ground. I hope that the cycleway includes a bridge to Stewart Island.

  10. Ianmac 10

    English was asked by Sean on Morning Report to give examples of low quality spending.
    “Er no. That will be up to the heads of departments.”

    In an interview with Katherine on Nine to Noon, (Thursday?) a Canadian authority on cutting State costs, said that if the Department concerned was able to keep the money that they had saved from their cuts, then they would be able to spend it on their own front line. Where this has happened in other countries a real enthusiastic response takes place. However I think that the plan in NZ is to return the savings to Govt coffers. So that it will pay for tax cuts and not on the front line at all? This line would be worth peruing.
    “What examples are there that money from cutting costs has been spent on the Front line.” eg:Say $1billion cut from Education = what on Education front line?

    • Murray 10.1

      So cuts are not necessary a bad thing then if done right.
      Most Departments already have the ability to spend more on their front line, but herein lies the problem within the public service, they often choose not to, Wasting it on logos and unnecessary corporate structure. I think many of these departments get so inflated they lose sight of who they are supposed to be helping.

      • Descendant Of Smith 10.1.1

        Prior to the private sector getting involved in the public sector – think someone like George Hickton for example – branding and logos and mission statements weren’t even a consideration for government departments as far as I can tell. It started in the 80’s with all the restructuring. It’s one of the ways the private sector made the public sector more (in)efficient.

        Branding is a clearly a private sector influence.

        Totally agree that it’s a waste of money though.

        But here’s where the right wingers can’t make their minds up – they want the public sector to be more like the private sector but then are critical when it is.

        Branding is probably a really good example of why the private sector should stay out of the public service.

        The thing that always amazes me is how uncritical shareholders are of companies who waste millions of $ on the same crap – at times bought from companies run by other family members – shifting shareholder profits to their family members by legal stealth. –

      • Ianmac 10.1.2

        Murray: Yes you are right in that any and every body needs to rethink their operations and cull this and develop that. Like how a family renews itself constantly actually.
        But “Most Departments already have the ability to spend more on their front line, but herein lies the problem within the public service, they often choose not to,” Now that would be hard to prove! The international evidence is however if the body was allowed to re-allocate the money to frontline as English says they will (????) then who better to do that but the HOD?

        • Murray

          If there in evidence that it does work then you are right “who better to do that but the HOD?”
          but how to get this happening

          • Ianmac

            The evidence is pretty conclusive according to the Canadian who has been a consultant around the World for over 20 years. He was in NZ recently to talk to um forgotten who.
            How to persuade the ever open English to action it? No sweat, but he will say (like Briscoes) “HOD have re directed up to 60% of money to the front line.” Of course nearly all of them will actually turn the savings into Treasury to pay for tax cuts.
            Will try and find the podcast.

            • Ianmac

              Friday 9:38
              Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Canada Advisory Services practice. Mr Jones has 20-years’ experience in ‘Shared services’ and shares his thoughts on restructuring the state sector and why agencies should be allowed to keep the majority of the costs saved as an incentive. (duration: 13′14″)

  11. jcuknz 11

    I love it when people complain that others don’t know how to run Excel etc and yet they don’t know the difference between there and their 🙂 Glasshouses somebody? I try to check what I have written, [ since my fingers seem to have a mind of their own quite separate from my brain] subbing ones own work is the hardest ever and I’m thankful Standard has the edit function 🙂

    • Descendant Of Smith 11.1

      Noted. 😳 Will edit more closely next time.

      You might like to try “one’s” and also decide whether you should have a space before and after brackets.

      Technically you should also have a full-stop after etc.

      Running Excel isn’t the problem either. That’s as easy as clicking on an icon. Using it effectively is the problem.


    • prism 11.2

      Don’t be so precious jcuknz. Ever seen that example of confused prose that can still be read because the mind looks for context. I would rather read someone’s good and thoughtful idea with the occasional error than perfect repetitions of cant.

  12. freedom 12

    i was told one of the announced cuts is to be on the tree planting programmes for preventing river erosion etc. The Govt cut $12million last year and are trimming another $8 million this year.

    Why i find this cut interesting is it seems to go against the very policies the government introduced. Is it not the idea of the ETS that planting trees gives credits, and when you are not cutting those trees down, as they are anti erosion plantings not forestry, then the credits can be put against other activities that generate carbon tax

    is this not cutting one’s nose despite one’s face?

  13. prism 13

    It sure is cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face freedom. If they are planning to do this they are a bunch of …….. Put your own favoured expression there.
    I think the planning process involved a meeting where instead of bringing a plate all the pollies had to bring an idea for either getting money or cutting spending on something, anything. If they didn’t front up they would have to sit in the naughty corner.

    The decisions coming out of government are certainly not the reasoned thoughts of statesmen and their female sidekicks.

  14. Jim Nald 14

    They say they are weeding
    But at community cohesion, economic growth and society’s progress
    They are cutting, axing and stabbing
    This ain’t taking us forward but to Ruthanasia we speedily regress
    Blind may others be; to those who see with head and heart, we are bloody bleeding

  15. jcuknz 15

    DOS … I sort of know what you mean becuase way back I knew a guy who swore by Excel and used it all the time and I got some of the hang of it from him …. sadly lost since I don’t do what I did then with computers. It was a very controlable way of using a computer.

    On the thread subject … despite all your fears I still think it is the way government needs to go although we may not like it as we mourn our particular wants. “Sumthins gotto go” .. no doubt somebody will say NACT 🙂 Though as I read today about the American scene “The Republicans and the Democrats are both useless” applies here too. What would be good perhaps would be a coalition LabNat. Working together for the good of People and Nation.
    Idealistic naievity no doubt.

  16. Hamish Gray 16

    The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Pacific Island Affairs are widely regarded as fairly useless. Chop the Families Commission too, alongside the Children’s Commissioner. I know for a fact that you could eliminate about 40 percent of the Ministry of Economic Development and no one would notice. NZTE has an obscene offshore spend, with very little to show for it. The Dept of Labour has a lot of fat in its system too that could be cut and no one would be the wiser. The big sucker is Social Development where the Wellington crowd has ballooned over the past 5 years, odd given that includes some economic boom times.

    These aren’t just opinion, but widely held views within the bureaucracy. Difficult to substantiate, I grant you, but if even the public servants think this, then… well, judge for yourself.

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