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Alliance pledges full State Sector review

A full review of the public service and the State Sector Act is being pledged by the Alliance in the wake of a series of scandals involving state sector management.

In the first of new policy announcements for the next election, Alliance leader Jim Anderton today committed the Alliance to the review, saying there is a lack of accountability for pay-outs to state sector appointees.

In recent months two Tourism Board members received a $340,000 exit payment and the chief executive received more than half a million dollars, Fire Service Commission chair Roger Estall and CEO Jean Martin received golden handshakes and NZQA chief Douglas Blackmur received at least $200,000.

"It's gone too far. There is obviously something very sick at the heart of state sector management and there doesn't seem to be any accountability when things go wrong or when public money is mis-spent. If the Alliance is in government later this year we want to clean it out," Jim Anderton said.

The Alliance review would be much wider than just exit payments. It would scrutinise the entire framework of public service management.

Topics for review would include: The State Sector Act and related legislation; The non-performance of the $20-million a year State Services Commission; Increasing advocacy for extreme right-wing policies by state sector chief executives; Seemingly endless expensive restructuring; The widespread use of expensive consultants; State Sector CEO pay levels; The absence of accountability for state sector scandals; And the failure of State Sector reforms to achieve most of the goals set for them.

"We're going to try to put the words 'public service' back into the vocabulary of the people who manage the state sector," Jim Anderton said.

"New Zealand needs a state sector based on coherent principles of non-partisanship, commitment to public service, and cleaner appointment and monitoring processes. If we're going to get a public service worthy of the name, it is going to have to be rebuilt from the bottom up."

The review would be aimed at the leadership and direction of the state service, and would involve relevant unions and community groups. The Alliance would consult widely on the scope and nature of the review, which would include a representative of the public sector unions on the review team.

"State sector restructuring in recent years has been aimed mainly at slashing departments and staff. The Alliance review will instead aim at the management and legislative framework. The people and the rules that caused the chaos need to be held accountable," Jim Anderton said.

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