Today saw the latest release of Tony Ryall’s statistics on the number of people employed in the public sector. Let’s recap on how these figures come about;
- National says they will cap, but not cut the public service. (see John Key’s speech to PSA Congress 2008)
- In order to “measure” this National creates something called “core government administration” and says that resources will go from there to the “frontline”.
- Tony Ryall admits in Parliament that he has no definition of what “frontline” services are, and later that there are jobs in “core government administration” that might be considered frontline, and may have been cut. (think DOC rangers, Fisheries and Biosecurity officers)
- After two years more than 1800 positions are gone, with the promise of more, and morale in the public service and public confidence in services sink further.
National Party supporters crow that this is just what is needed to reduce wasteful bureaucracy, and celebrate thousands of New Zealanders losing their jobs. Remember this is a government that supposedly has a “relentless” focus on jobs and keeping people in work. And as Bill English has told us this is just the beginning. These jobs don’t exist in a vacuum, they are linked to services we all need and use.
There is no doubt the Christchurch Earthquake showed the value of those who are “at the frontline” like the rescue workers crawling through rubble, and those who back them up, like the staff at the Ministry of Health who coordinated the moves of disabled Christchurch people and set up the emergency response network with DHBs. They are both important, and we need strong public services for all New Zealanders.
As with Tony Ryall in health this is all just slogans and manufactured targets. There is nothing here about the quality of public services New Zealanders are receiving, how they will be more responsive, innovative and linked to their communities. Just scratching a political itch. To make matters worse, he claims credit for more teachers and doctors, which a) may not actually exist and b) if they do began their training under Labour.
Lets have more efficient public services, by all means, but New Zealanders deserve better than Tony’s twaddle.