National and the Maori Party are having yet another round of crisis. Once again the Maori Party is threatening to collapse the coalition over a policy. This time it’s Key’s insistence that non-Maori be included in Tariana Turia’s bizarre Whanau Ora plan. Once again, we can look forward to the Maori Party capitulating in a couple of days. Every time their principles are on the line, they choose the Crown limo and the salary ahead of them. It won’t be any different this time.
But that’s the politics. I’m more concerned about what the government is planning to do with a billion dollars of our money.
At John Key’s press conference today, Duncan Garner asked the PM for his best explanation of what Whanau Ora is isn’t it incredible that the government is about to pour a billion dollars into this and we’re at the point of â€˜what is this?’ not â€˜what evidence do you have this will be better’? This was Key’s response:
‘Whanau Ora is a way of saying we’re going to measure outcomes, instead of just inputs into a family. If that means consolidating funding the current payments that go into a family to give greater flexibility to a third party private provider and to get better results for New Zealanders, then I think they should support it’
Which I take to be a long way of saying ‘I don’t know what Whanau Ora is’.
I mean, come on. It’s about measuring outputs? What has that got to do with private providers? What are these private providers providing? What better outcomes will be achieved? What will change as a result of ‘measuring outcomes instead of outputs’ will people’s eligibility for social services potentially be increased or cut off on the say-so of a private organisation?
Underneath the confusion, I think we can see one clear theme emerging: private providers. Somehow, Whanau Ora is about having government departments pay private organisations to deliver the public services to families that the private organisations determine the families need. It’s a dangerous path that Australia has already gone down. It means that more of the money has to be used on bureaucracy, liaison, and monitoring – not to mention profits. Inevitably, that money will come out of the front-line services that get delivered to families in need.