The National led government released its latest public service staff statistics yesterday. They show that they have overseen almost 2,400 Kiwis losing their jobs since 2008. That is thousands of families with people who make the money to put food on the table out of work. Things really are starting to follow the 1990s pattern- the gutting of the public sector, followed by the decline in services and confidence from the public, followed by the hiring of consultants and contractors to fill the gaps…
The figures announced today do not cover the full impact most recent jobs losses announced for DOC and the IRD. In both cases its not the people I look after in Wellington Central bearing the brunt, it is the provinces. Wanganui, Rotorua, Napier, Invercargill, Nelson, New Plymouth. Did someone say “frontline services”.
Two stories related to this came my way today. The first from the Daily News in New Plymouth who quoted one of the staff saying that they had been warned that if they talked publicly about the job losses they would go even quicker.
“They told us there was to be absolutely no discussion of anything to the media. If anyone spoke to the media it could be a code of conduct issue,” an employee told the Taranaki Daily News on condition of anonymity. Penalties for breaching the code of conduct could include being sacked, they said.
The worker also said something that will be familiar to many in the public service. He said “morale was in tatters”. It is, in almost every government agency I speak to- and the end result of that is poorer services for us all.
Meanwhile over in Whanganui they are facing the effect of the cuts to the Department of Conservation, the latest in a line of cuts including to NZTA, child advocacy services and the baliffs. I got a note passed on to me from a local teacher who said
I feel awful today as I hear from children I teach that their their families will be shifting out of Wanganui because of the cutbacks and the gutting of the local DOC office.which once served the region from Taranaki to the Manawatu and over the Ruahines. Going are the scientists, an engineer, cartographers and other skilled workers whose children have been really special to teach.
This is one aspect of the abandoning of provinicial New Zealand, the breakdown of communities. Another is the loss of health services in places like Temuka and Rangiora. John Pagani has written a good blog on another aspect of it. The absence of any real focused regional development from this government that will give people a sense that there are jobs and a future for them and their town. I think we owe these towns that have been the backbone of our country some support and some hope.