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PM Speech At Victoria University Prize Giving

Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister Address at School of Government Second Anniversary Prize Giving Ceremony/Prime Minister Prizes

Victoria University Wellington


This evening’s event marks the second anniversary of the establishment of Victoria University’s School of Government.

Last year this prize giving ceremony occurred across the road in Parliament’s Grand Hall. On that occasion the Vice-Chancellor expressed the hope that we might reassemble at the new Pipitea Campus, in 2004. Here we are tonight.

This campus could not be more ideally located for a school of government – close as it is to Parliament and the headquarters of so many government departments and agencies. It makes the public policy equivalent of the scientific field trip very accessible ! For example, I understand that officials in the Cabinet Office hosted a third year undergraduate class studying cabinet government earlier this year. And later this week, a group of staff and graduate students will have a session with my colleague Steve Maharey.

As we reflect on the second year of the School of Government there is a real sense of continued achievement.

The mission of the School of Government is ‘Building the capability of the Public Sector’. It is helping do that in many ways, and the task is critical.

The government shares the School’s commitment to a quality public sector. If governments are to lead and provide clear direction, their efforts must be backed by robust policy advice, and by an ability to execute decisions and follow through with implementation.

When our government came into office, we knew the public sector had to be strengthened. We have been prepared to grow its size in order to get better policy advice and better delivery of services.

The School of Government has been able to support the strengthening of the public sector in the following ways: Through signing of a Memorandum of Understanding: The Strategic Tertiary Alliance between Victoria University and the State Services Commission in November 2003. The agreement enables the university and senior public servants to come together regularly to identify the learning needs of the Public Service and the best ways of meeting them. Victoria University will act as both a facilitator and a conduit. Public servants needing access to particular areas of teaching or research can use Victoria to access faculty anywhere in the country or around the world.

Through involvement in the Executive Leadership Programme for the Public Service. This programme, run by the Leadership Development Centre for the State Services Commission, helps talented public servants identify their development needs. The School of Government works closely with the Leadership Development Centre to deliver short course programmes.

Through the partnership with the New Zealand Government, in the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). The second intake of the trans-Tasman Executive Master of Public Administration students began in February this year. The School hosted 120 ANZSOG students for a week in late June and early July. The Executive Masters is continuing to develop the capabilities of senior Public Service managers on both sides of the Tasman.

Through the Master of Strategic Studies Degree which began in March 2004. This is a post-experience qualification, focusing on developing the capability of current and future strategists, analysts, and managers in the State sector - including those in customs, defence, foreign policy, and other areas of security. The School of Government is discussing with Massey University future developments in the Defence and Strategic Studies programmes, and further possibilities for co-operation between the two programmes.

The School of Government comprises not only the undergraduate, graduate and post-experience teaching programmes. It also brings a number of very strong research centres and institutes under the one organisational roof.

They include the Health Services Research Centre, the Centre for Strategic Studies, the Roy McKenzie Centre for the Study of Families, and the Institute of Policy Studies.

While it would take a considerable time to list the achievements of these centres and institutes, let me note some of the highlights:

In December 2003 the Roy McKenzie Centre for the Study of Families was successful in obtaining a grant of $4 million from the Foundation of Research Science and Technology to carry out a six-year project to explore how young people can make positive transitions from adolescence.

The Institute of Policy Studies has continued to focus on domestic and international policy issues. In late June it collaborated with the Project on International Courts and Tribunals and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research to organise a Seminar on International Courts and Tribunals for Practitioners for South East Asia and the South Pacific Regions.

In August, the Centre for Strategic Studies hosted a Centre for Security Co-operation in the Asia Pacific Study Group focusing on a study of Security in Oceania. This involved representatives from Asia (China, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines) and Pacific Island Forum countries. The meeting discussed new ideas for study and policy formulation.

The Health Services Research Centre undertakes policy-focused research on health systems and health services. The Centre has a strong focus on research that aims to improve the health status of Māori. The Centre is currently leading a project which researches the way in which the 2001 health reforms are working to achieve government goals; it is also undertaking evaluation of the implementation and intermediate outcomes of the primary health care strategy.

With those introductory remarks, let me now turn to the announcement of the winners of the Prime Minister’s prize for 2003.

There are two prizes –

The Prime Minister’s prize in Public Policy Studies, for the best student in the Masters in Public Policy Programme,

and the Prime Minister’s prize for Public Management, awarded to the best all round academic performance in the Masters of Public Management programme.

The recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize in Policy Studies for 2003 is Emily McDonough.

Emily completed a BA in Geography University of Auckland in 2000. She moved to Wellington in 2001 to begin the Master of Public Policy Degree.

The Ministry of Education, through their graduate recruitment programme, employed Emily in early 2002. Since that time she has worked as a policy analyst in the Learning Policy team.

Emily’s research explored the reasons why Māori and Pasifika graduates apply for employment in the New Zealand Public Service. Her research was conducted through questionnaires and interviews with Māori and Pasifika students who were finishing their degrees at four universities. Interviews were also conducted with senior Māori and Pasifika public servants.

The most conclusive finding of the research was that Mäori and Pasifika students lack information on public service careers - be it employment conditions, type of work, salary, or familiarity with the physical environment.

Her paper recommends that the Public Service holds open days and 'road shows,' offers internships, has specialist recruitment contacts, and provides mentoring for new graduates.

I understand that the findings from this research project have contributed to the State Services Commission's Employer of Choice project, and the Ministry of Education’s recruitment strategies.

The winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Public Management is Ross McLeod.

Ross is the Director Corporate and Civic Services, at Waitakere City Council and completed his Masters of Public Management last year.

Ross is a graduate of the University of Auckland where his undergraduate major was in Political Studies. Ross went on to complete a Diploma of Local Government and Administration at the University of Auckland in 1995.

The research undertaken by Ross was entitled Leading for a purpose: the relationship between political leadership and strategic leadership in New Zealand local government organisations; and implications for public organisations.

His research project started from the hypothesis that public organisations exist to pursue outcomes for the benefit of the community and society they serve, and that strategic leadership in public organisations is about leading those organisations to enable them to contribute, through their strategic performance, to those outcomes.

The research questions asked in Ross’s paper were:

How does the operating environment (or context) influence the ability of senior executives to lead a local government organisation strategically?

What role do political strategy and leadership have in establishing the operating environment for organisational leadership?

What leadership interventions are most effective in achieving strategic leadership in an organisation?, and

How does the operating environment impact upon specific leadership interventions?

Ross interviewed seventeen senior and middle management staff from three organisations. He found that the operating environment, and in particular political strategy and leadership, were shown to have a significant impact on strategic leadership within local government organisations.

Ross's research draws attention to the critical importance of strategic leadership in public organisations. To ensure the effectiveness of public sector organisations, good leadership is critical.

The work of Emily McDonough and Ross McLeod shares common qualities:

First, they both meet the test of excellence – these contributions make new and original contributions to public management research.

Second, their work contributes to evidence-based policy formulation, and contributes directly to building public service capability.

These are the very attributes the School of Government exists to promote.

I congratulate both Emily and Ross on their achievement, and invite them to accept these Prime Minister’s prizes.

Could I now ask Sir Frank and Nola Holmes, and Professor Margaret Clark to come forward to announce the recipients of the Holmes Prize, and the Bernard Galvin Prize.

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