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'Ideological Burp' Back to Torment Civil Service

'Ideological Burp' Resurfaces to Torment Civil Servants

A briefing paper from one group of public servants (Treasury) may result in some of their public sector brethren being culled if the National Party has its way


When asked by Scoop if Treasury was one place where the public of New Zealand was being well served with policy advice National's Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee politely but firmly stated he was not going to answer the question.

Mr Brownlee this week launched an assault on an allegedly 'bloated bureaucracy' filled with pen pushers, shuffling paper in a 'Gliding On' type haze of indigence - aiding Mr Brownlee in his assault on the humble civil servant has been the state broadcaster TVNZ and Treasury's briefing to the incoming Government (2005).

Both Mr Brownlee and TVNZ have been at pains in their press releases and news reports to point out a paragraph from Treasury's briefing paper dealing with 'improving the performance of the public sector'.

"There is little information to indicate that New Zealanders are getting more services and better results from the public sector for the large increase in resources provided. What little information exists is not encouraging," was the opinion of Treasury's policy analysts.

The same Treasury briefing that is now being touted by Mr Brownlee and TVNZ as proof positive that bureaucracy is out of control also advocated lowering the top personal tax rate and was described as an 'ideological burp' last year by Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen.

Political commentator Chris Trotter went one step further than Dr Cullen in relation to the Treasury briefing when he wrote a column entitled "Treason in the Treasury".

According to Mr Trotter's analysis of the Treasury's briefing paper - it constituted "a full-scale assault on Labour's economic programme."

Mr Trotter then went on to point out that "[ a] prima facie case therefore exists for charging the Treasury with initiating and/or colluding in a campaign to destabilise the democratically elected Government of New Zealand."

When asked by Scoop if all the 'pen pushers', housed in the equivalent of 15 rugby fields of new office space, were useless Mr Brownlee explained that "[National] would seriously question why you would have to have such a huge increase in the public service in an age where we are supposed to be becoming increasingly electronic and where you would expect there would be a greater degree of devolution."

Mr Brownlee also accused the Minister responsible for the State Services Commission, Annette King, of creating a culture of fear by talking about National wanting to cut jobs.

However, given that National considers that the Government is bloated with bureaucracy, Scoop wanted to know where Mr Brownlee thought cuts needed to be made.

"We certainly don't need to have the number of policy analysts working inside Government - there's 2000 of those people poring over bits of paper and creating new bits of paper - for what?" was Mr Brownlee's answer as to who would be facing the chop.

When asked to be more specific Mr Brownlee quickly picked out the Tertiary Education Commission as a place where job security wouldn't be guaranteed under a National Government.

The process of looking at where other cuts could be made would take some months of study according to Mr Brownlee.

National's Deputy Leader Gerry Brownlee who considers in an "increasingly electronic age" there is no need for the public sector to be expanding


Mr Brownlee's attacks on the public sector workforce has caused the Public Service Association to issue a press release that accuses National of "constantly attacking public servants" and advising National that "Public service workers play an important role throughout New Zealand working as conservation rangers, probation officers, meat inspectors, nurses, export advisors and in many other important jobs."

In response to National's figures regarding space leased by Government Departments Annette King explained in a press release that accommodating public servants was a challenge, with rental costs in Wellington increasing in recent years.

"Government departments need to be close to Parliament, which means they're in the CBD, where they're subjected to these increasing charges. We have to be realistic about the modern workplace and what is required to attract and sustain good quality people," she said.



  • National - Massive increase in Govt bureaucracy
  • National - King attempts to fudge public sector argument
  • PSA -The myth of the exploding public sector
  • PSA - Forget rugby fields look at the quality of service
  • NZ Govt - Effective and efficient public sector vital
  • TVNZ Link - Inflated Civil Service Causes Concern

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