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National: Better value from your taxes

John Key MP National Party Leader

16 October 2008

National: Better value from your taxes

National Party Leader John Key says an incoming National-led Government will treat every dollar it spends as carefully as householders do when they're totting up the weekly budget.

"In the period immediately ahead, families and businesses will have no option but to behave with restraint, and will be entitled to see similar restraint reflected in the operation of the government agencies funded by their taxes.

"Years of unfocused and largely unmanaged growth have left a public service that is unbalanced between head office administrators and frontline service providers. Productivity levels are too low and now represent an impediment to the better growth levels our economy must achieve.

"National will improve productivity across the public sector by ensuring there is a strong focus on the provision of frontline services that New Zealanders and their families rely on, and by reining in the growth of the back-room bureaucracy.

"We have previously announced we will put a cap on the size of the core bureaucracy to allow a re-balancing to occur as available resources are moved to the front line.

"National will require departmental chief executives to undertake a line-by-line review of their expenditure, with the goal of identifying areas where savings in government administration can be made.

"And we'll establish a Cabinet Expenditure Control Committee to oversee this process and to consider chief executives' reports on potential savings.

"Based on the information it receives, the committee will be able to initiate in-depth spending reviews of particular areas of government administration to ensure the best value for taxpayers and users of public services.

"This is a time in which the public sector must play its part by seeking to improve productivity and the delivery of core services to the public."

National will: * Cap the size of the core bureaucracy in the first term of government, and ensure that priority is given to delivering frontline services that directly benefit New Zealanders. * Limit new spending in its first Budget to the priorities we have identified in the election campaign and non-discretionary pressures that cannot be deferred or absorbed. * Require departmental chief executives to undertake a line-by-line review of their expenditure with the goal of identifying areas where savings in government administration can be made. * Establish a Cabinet Expenditure Control Committee to oversee this process and to consider chief executives' reports on potential savings.

National recognises there is a high level of professionalism and competence in New Zealand's public service. What is needed is effective political leadership that sets clear goals that are professionally communicated.

National will: * Recognise the professionalism of public servants and expect high-quality, timely advice. * Promote an environment of professionalism and mutual respect. * Allow advisers to take part in Cabinet committee discussions where appropriate.

At 1 July 2008, government departments employed 505 public relations, communications, media staff and contractors. Six years ago they employed 238. New Zealanders know the service provided by these departments isn't twice as good.

National will work to restore a sense of balance and proportion.

National will:

* Restore the absolute commitment to the political neutrality of the public service.

* Ensure that public service departments are not used for party political gain.

* Reduce the number of communications and public relations advisers across the public service

"While National is prepared to lay out a plan to get more value for the taxes spent on back room bureaucracy, Labour is asking struggling New Zealand families to write them a blank cheque. Helen Clark has offered no advice on what she would do differently in tougher economic times. A mini-Budget after the election is not good enough," Mr Key says.


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