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Government contemptuous of advisors

Bob Simcock National Social Services Spokesperson

16 April 2001

Government contemptuous of advisors

The announcement that the Ministry of Social Policy is to be absorbed into DWI, and that CYFS is likely to follow, is one more example of this Government's 'we know best' approach, National's Social Services spokesperson Bob Simcock said today.

"Departmental advice to the incoming Minister after the last election made it plain that the Government's advisors did not support any further restructuring in the sector.

"Last year's Hunn Review on the Department of Work and Income advised against further restructuring of that department.

"Judge Mick Brown's recently released review of the Child Youth and Family Service blamed repeated restructuring for much of the difficulty currently faced by that department.

"Staff in these three departments passionately oppose further restructuring.

"Given these facts any Government should take care to consult and consider all of the implications before making further structural changes.

"Any competent Government would have asked a series of important questions before making such a decision against advice:

How much will the change cost, and will any benefits justify the cost? How will the independence of policy advice to Government be maintained? Will this change improve or weaken the quality of advice available to the Government? Is it appropriate for CYFS to have to go to DWI for policy advice? Will restructuring cause already stressed agencies to lose focus once again?

As recently as a few weeks ago the Minister of Social Services told Parliament that there were no plans to restructure these departments. He and the Prime Minister admit that they have sought no advice over this amalgamation.

Likewise, the Minister has admitted that he doesn't know how much it will cost. And the decision was made without any discussion papers having been taken to Cabinet.

"This decision has shown the Minister and the Prime Minister to be contemptuous of the views of Judge Mick Brown, Don Hunn, Dame Margaret Bazley, Jackie Brown, and of course Christine Rankin, and all of the people working in these three departments.

"Morale in the sector is to be further sacrificed just so Minister Maharey can avoid the consequences of the mishandling of his relationship with Christine Rankin.

"This decision is more about the arrogance and dishonesty of Government Ministers than about any need to reduce the number of Government departments," Bob Simcock said.


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