MUST READ: Shane Jones’ Critique Of Bureaucratic Obstructionism Is Well Made


SHANE JONES is on to something. Whether it’s the thing I think he’s on to, or something else entirely, I don’t know. For the sake of argument, however, let’s just assume we’re both onto the same thing – and take it from there. And what is “the thing” we’re on to? The problem of bureaucratic obstructionism.

As Minister of Economic Development, Jones is appalled and frustrated by the time and effort required to get anything done in New Zealand. The Labour-NZ First coalition government has given him a billion dollars to kick our flagging regional economies into life. He wants to get cracking – but the bureaucratic obstacles in his path are holding him up.

He wants that to change. As an incoming minister in a new government, he wants to be able replace the incumbent bureaucratic bosses with his own people. That way, the enormous power conferred upon the Crown’s CEO’s by the State Services Act could be harnessed to the core democratic duty of making his party’s election promises come true.

In theory, this is precisely what is supposed to happen under the existing system. Government ministers inform their CEO’s as to what is expected of them – policy wise – and it is then their job to make sure the policy is carried out. Between the communication and the execution of the policy, however, a Minister’s bureaucratic advisers are expected to offer “free and frank advice” as to whether the measures being proposed are practical, affordable or even desirable. When that discussion ends, however, the responsibility for actually implementing the agreed policy rests almost entirely with the CEO – not the minister.

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Herein lies the problem. A minister can lead his bureaucratic horses to water, but he cannot make them drink. While the CEOs and all the bureaucrats under them are deemed to be acting as their ministers’ “agents”, the ministers – their “principals” – are expected to let them get on with it. Direct interference by politicians in the day-to-day implementation of government policy is a big no-no.

Couldn’t the minister just cajole, or even threaten, his bureaucrats into doing his bidding behind the scenes? Well, yes, he could try. Unfortunately, that sort of behaviour has a habit of being leaked to the news media. Before the minister knows it, the State Services Commissioner is being asked to investigate, and the minister is being asked by the prime-minister to giver her one good reason why she shouldn’t ask him to surrender his ministerial warrant immediately.

The news media can also come in very handy in the event of a minister point-blank refusing to accept the “free and frank” advice of his bureaucrats. The fact that a minister’s “expert advisers” have unanimously pronounced his policies to be impractical, unaffordable and undesirable – only to be ignored – will always be front-page news. Especially when the details of that official advice are helpfully released to a TV network under the Official Information Act, or passed to a press gallery journalist in a plain brown envelope.

How can this be democratic? Surely, if a political party, or parties, are elected on the basis of a particular set of economic and social policies, then the sort of bureaucratic obstructionism (or outright subversion) described above can only be described as running completely counter to the government’s democratic mandate?

The sad answer to these politically charged questions is that the executive arm of the New Zealand state is not designed to serve democracy – but to thwart it. It was reconfigured in the 1980s to make sure that the way the populist National Party prime minister, Rob Muldoon, governed New Zealand could never be replicated.

As both Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Muldoon intervened directly and repeatedly in the country’s economy. He froze wages and prices and fixed rents and interest rates. He committed the country to “Think Big”, a vast programme of public works and joint-venture energy projects. The strong objections of Muldoon’s bureaucratic advisers – particularly those in the Treasury – were brusquely overruled. The whole point of the State Sector Act was to sever the cables that had connected the levers in Muldoon’s hands to the big economic and administrative engines powering post-war New Zealand.

That this frankly undemocratic system has functioned more-or-less effectively for so long is due to the acceptance by all but one of the country’s major political parties that a return to the bad old days of “Muldoonism” would be disastrous for New Zealand. The odd party out is, of course, NZ First – whose leader, Winston Peters (another populist) has always been a great admirer of Rob Muldoon.

If you have ever wondered why Peters attracts so much venom from practically the entire political class: politicians, journalists, civil servants and business lobbyists; it’s because they understand that any politician who pledges to fulfil his party’s promises by reintroducing a “hands-on” approach to economic management cannot avoid exposing the undemocratic coding at the core of government management in New Zealand.

Now, it may be that Shane Jones simply fancies himself as an economic czar surrounded by cronies and flunkies who treat his word as law. And that, I’m prepared to concede, is a profoundly disturbing picture! More likely, however, is that Jones is lashing out in frustration against a system specifically designed to thwart the promises and plans of populist politicians like himself and his leader.

I don’t believe it’s his ego that Jones is seeking to gratify – but the people’s will.




  1. I am sorely tempted to write ranty screeds about how Ministry of Health bureaucrats have misled and manipulated various governments over the years….especially on disability issues.

    They have lied. There, I said it…and I can prove it….although the miserable bastards will claim they got the numbers wrong because they ‘didn’t have the data.’


    Time for a purge.

    Well overdue for a government minister to cry foul and at least threaten to take control.

    • That’s politics in a democracy counterargument, though there are no nuanced arguments used by most prominent politicians, even in major parties. It’s all pandering, it’s all sentiment and emotional appeal. A politician does not win over the hearts and minds of people by going up there and saying “you know, your jobs are gone. Sorry, but here is my team of advisers’ detailed 100 page plan about how to revitalize the economy. [cue words and terms nobody gets.]” No, even Key, whose saving grace is that he sounds like he knows what he’s doing, is talking about “bringing jobs back.” Well, all the economics guys I’ve heard is that there are no jobs to come back. They’re gone and they’re gone for good. But you can’t say that because it will immediately turn some people off.

      It’s a “complex policies” trap. Free trade, and as the alternative imply some sort of no trade with outside world attempt at autarky where you can’t buy food from other parts of the world. Meanwhile, there is a whole spectrum of intermediate policies that boil down to “not-so-free trade”.

      A New York Real Estate developer walked into the White House in Jan 2017 and 15 months later he has Denuclearized the Korean peninsula. A feat that still seems to good to be true but it shows bureaucracies can be made to do things they don’t ant to do. Foreign policy nerds may say well you can’t do X because of treaty Y. And Trump comes in saying this is just a realestate dispute.

      It’s all feelz over realz during an election in a democracy. Until it’s time to go get it.

      • I missed the announcement that North Korea had Denuclearized, by that i guess you mean they have dismantled any nuclear weapons and any delivery vehicles they had developed.
        For some reason i thought that having demonstrated that they have nuclear bombs, that they have a rocket that can reach the USA and that they aren’t afraid to launch a rocket over the top of another country it was mission accomplished as far as the NK’s were concerned

        • It’s a halt to testing. Probably because the Kim Jun Ill has completed all testing. As for the warhead and delivery vehicles said to be able to reach the continental United States is powered by 8 ex soviet era RD-250 liquid rocket engines transferred via state-owned aerospace manufacturer A.M. Makarov Southern Machine-Building Plant who’s Headquarters are located at 1, Kryvorizhska street, Dnipro, Ukraine.

          The RD-250 known in North Korea as Hwasong-14 is a first stage rocket engine with an estimated range of 2000kms. To get the Hwasomg-14 the extra 2000ks or so so it could be said to reach the continental US North Korean scientists had to put more full in the tank limiting its payload capacity from about 30 tons to 3 tons payload. As for the warhead itself it is yet to be demonstrated that Kim Jun Ill poses nuclear weapons miniaturisation technology suitable for use on the Hwasomg-14 as all known North Korean warheads are well over the weight limit design specifications needed to reach the continental US. While the specifications that Iv given of the RD-250 is not exact the illiterate the appropriate vitality of the threat posed to peace and stability. In short the battle of the hairdos got what they wanted with minimal effort and maximum gloss.

          Don’t let the rays of sunshine beaming out their asses blind you to the fact that micro-militarising generals and foreign policy nerds screamed heaven and earth that Kim could do it.

    • Come on, they have lied, if they did, because the government of the day condoned it, perhaps even knowingly supported the obstruction and obfuscation. And in that both National and Labour have a long track record, I think.

      That is then not so much the fault of the ministries, it is the appalling supervision of them, by the government.

      For anything to change the law needs to be changed.

      Our parliamentarians, with a sense of self importance and entitlement, they do in their majority seem to be poor advocates for true and honest change of the status quo.

      While National was engaged in abusing the OIA and in using dirty politics, Labour did not say and do all that much about it, as they knew, once they would be back in power, they would get away with the same, and so they do it now, caring a shit about honesty, transparency and accountability.

      Watch and follow it unfold.

  2. Stick em all on fixed term contracts, say 4 or 5 year contracts. With the right to re-apply for the position but isnt deemed that they’ll be offered that same position or any other position.

    • Actually Denny, that is a fucking good idea. And contracts that make it clear they are employed as public servants who are covered by a code of conduct from the lowliest lowly to the master-of-the Universe CEO, and contracts that do not involve any sort of golden handshake. Also contracts that ensure that they’re not able to flip between the Public Service and private enterprise and back again, that allow them to make money out of someting that in the private sector…. there’s a thing called restraint of trade

      • “Also contracts that ensure that they’re not able to flip between the Public Service and private enterprise and back again, that allow them to make money out of something that in the private sector…”

        I could rattle off a few names of former Ministry of Health staffers who have moved onward and upwards into the private sector. Into senior positions in organisations with contracts with the Ministry of Health. Especially in the disability sector. All very incestuous.

        • Yep. There are a number of ‘us’ that have a list of names if push ever comes to shove.
          The depressing thing is that it keeps going on, AND under the auspices of an SSC who claims to have a certain pride in his ps.
          I was told by a very close friend that the guy was a decent sort of bloke, and as it happens, in one of my daily constitutionals, I came across the guy having a ‘deep and meaningful’ with one of those people he is supposedly proud of.
          You really have to wonder about the societal disconnect.

  3. Is there a body that monitors and reports back to the Minister that the dept / CEO in question is indeed following policy?… And is there a mechanism / procedure that can remove antagonistic , non compliant and politically motivated individuals that deliberately run counter to policy ?

    I’m sure the lawyers could find a way, – and make a handsome profit in doing so , it would be worth it , however…

    I guess there would be. There seems to be a disconnect and even a window of opportunity for sabotaging policy of an incumbent govt in this scenario: in favour of the govt that was voted out.

    This doesn’t seem right at all.

    This means the rear guard remnant of the former govt can obstruct , frustrate and run counter to the democratic will of the voters, – in effect, – run their own little fiefdoms in collusion with their political loyalty’s , and smear the current govt with incompetence while ‘talking up’ how great it was under the former govt.

    Not that most people would believe their story after 9 years of National abusing people and dismantling our infrastructure while handing out tax cuts to the wealthy and making the working poor pay a disproportionate amount of tax…

    No ,… these obstructive , well salaried characters need looking into.

    They should not feel so secure in their positions that they can abuse the democratic will of the voters,- we’ve already had 9 years of that and its time we got our country back , thank you very much.

    And if that means a few heads need to roll as an example , so be it.

    This is a new Labour led coalition , – not a continuation of the skulduggery of the National party and their rich benefactor’s , – and that includes those of the NZ Initiative’s ilk , as well.

    We know who you are.

    These CEO’s need to be sacked if they are non compliant. Because they are not upholding and acting in a democratic fashion.

    They have the choice to move to any number of dictatorships around the globe if they want to be a part of that ,- here in New Zealand we do things that are democratic.

    Good on Shane Jones.

    And good on Winston Peters.

    And good on NZ First.

    • ‘Is there a body that monitors and reports back to the Minister that the dept / CEO in question is indeed following policy?’

      No. (Indeed, they do not even have to comply with NZ statutes.)

      I went down that particular track a decade ago and found that there is a closed loop in which no one is responsible, and each participant of the closed loop refers complaints to the next party, which passes the compliant to the next, ad infinitum.

      When you have tried every door and found it firmly closed you can take your complaint to the Ombudsman……who will inform you that such matters ‘do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman’s Office’, and even if it did there would only be the power of ‘recommendation’.

      The system is designed to protect the system and to ensure there is no accountability. And it works very well for the incumbents.

  4. Assuming you’re correct…and i’m inclined to think you are….does either work? Remember the reason Douglas was given the opportunity to liberalise the economy was because of Muldoon’s failure.

    Swings and roundabouts?

    • Swings and bloody roundabouts?!!?

      FFS !!!

      Did we have the homelessness, the working poor poverty , the shit mold in hospitals , the cheap shit immigrant labour under Muldoon ?!!?

      Did we have Chinese spy’s as members of caucus?!!?

      No !!!

      And Muldoons failure?- besides the fact that Muldoon was closer to MANA than the Greens are today , and besides the fact that Muldoon in theory stuck up for the Kiwi battler , – just what was it about ‘Think Big’ that was so wrong?- besides the fact that the Rogernomes saw an opportunity to privatize them?

      You can call it what you want but a Keynesian economy whereby harmful excesses are regulated is a good thing. Muldoon might have been repugnant to many , – but it was Bob Jone’s New Zealand party that was set up with help by the Business Roundtable under the auspices of the London based Mont Pelerin society that toppled Muldoon by splitting the conservative vote.

      And it was specifically done to get Muldoon and Keynesian economics out and free market neo liberalism in.

      AND THAT’S ALL !!!

      New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

      And thus breaking 60 years of a stable NZ society where the worker lived in relative comfort.

      Go talk to a homeless person or a family that lives under a bridge or in a garage. They might have a few sage words about the neo liberal free market. Or the child from the working class background who’s been supported by their parents to put them through University – you will surely find a different perspective.

      Swings and bloody roundabouts my arse.

      People have died because of ‘swings and roundabouts’- ie: children dying of preventable respiratory diseases found in third world country’s due to a free market rental / hospital system – you may be glib with ‘ swings and roundabouts’ but for those of the working poor ,- that means FUCKING DEATH to many of their children.

      I know you didn’t mean it like that.

      But lets not forget , … there is a little 3 year old girl in Afghanistan that paid the price for neo liberal globalization aka western imperialism aka Rothchilds banking systems. And we have yet to bring to the High Court the local NZ perpetrators.

      Most of which were core National party ‘democratically elected’ individuals – chief among those being John Key. And there was another one who had a ‘Mapp’ of Afghanistan as far as I know…who seemed to know a bit more than hes letting on…

      I don’t think Muldoon was ever guilty of murdering three year old’s… do you?

      Muldoon was an old time fiscal conservative,.. obnoxious to some as he was… savior to others… but he was not an outright murdering bastard, either. Nor was he a sell- out neo liberal globalist He actually gave a DAMN about New Zealand, – AND was still head of the IMF as he did so.

      There will come a day… when history will look kindly on Sir Robert Muldoon.

      Despite the fact I joined the anti Springbok rugby tour of 1981.

      Patu Unit by default.

      Right up the front seeing it all happening right before my very eyes.

      Injured people, both Police and demonstrators.

      It was horrific.

      My people,.. the New Zealanders.

      • Wow, very interesting and if you were in the rugby protests you would’ve probably come from the position of hating piggy Muldoon. Bastion Point was a big fail too. But history is changing perspective …what came after him was cold and very evil and what was wrong with Think Big? I didn’t get that this article was critical of Muldoon though…

        • No , its not really that critical of Muldoon , but does draw attention to the fact that :

          … ” The whole point of the State Sector Act was to sever the cables that had connected the levers in Muldoon’s hands to the big economic and administrative engines powering post-war New Zealand ” …

          Which in theory was a good thing to prevent autocratic out- of – control leadership / government. The problem is, like so many other good things , it wasn’t long before the opportunists saw an angle which they could exploit ,…. which is really the crux of the matter.

          And it leaves the door wide open for politically motivated moles from the previous govt to subtlety wreak havoc. And these CEO moles are what this is all about ,- and their unwarranted capacity to thwart the government that was set in place by the voters over them , – and for them to avoid doing as their told and just getting on with the job.

          Oh , and as for Muldoon ?

          I’m still kind of ambiguous about the guy. While there was the Springbok tour, Bastion Point and calling Robert Mugabe a jungle bunny – he was a character. He might have been a National leader but he was a firm believer in Keynesian economics, one of the last leaders of NZ who were part of the ‘Great Generation’ that fought WW2 and were thus practical and hands on ( unlike the academics we have now for the most part ) .

          I think there were some good quality’s about it him, despite his dictatorial abrasive style. He wasn’t afraid of ANYONE and spoke his mind bluntly. And it was a time of relative economic and social stability. Unlike today ,- where there is so much economic / infrastructural / social decay .

          I’ve never been so absolutely appalled at the levels of chronic poverty that are allowed to exist in this country as it exists today. And the subversion of the MSM as well as the blatant lies, dishonesty , and corruption that gets blithely accepted as ‘normal’ as it did with the war criminal John Key.

          Absolutely unheard of in Robert Muldoons time.

          Muldoon may not have been perfect , … but if a guy like Muldoon were alive today in politics ?, – Id vote for him in a heartbeat . It is known that Muldoon was more closer to MANA policy – wise than even the Greens – that’s how incredibly far to the extreme right this county has drifted in 3 decades!

          Maybe that’s why I’ve always liked NZ First and Winston Peters. Peters is a bit like Muldoon in some ways, and so are some of his political leanings. Jim Anderton was another favorite.

          And personally ? , …I think its high time we had a good dose of old time social and economical reforms to undo the destructive, crassly elitist , vulgar corruption caused by neo liberalism.

          And we could start by getting a little proactive and ‘Muldoonist’ by sacking any non compliant’s not found doing their damn jobs as they’ve been clearly instructed to.

          Its called ‘growing a pair’ in some circles.

          • Yes I agree with your analysis here, and you are right about Peter’s, I feel the same. And I liked Sue Bradford for the same reason…

      • now that the apoplexy has passed you may wish to consider what the article was about….the independence (or not) of the public service…the fact remains that under both regimes described there are downsides that are difficult to address for both systems rely upon the integrity and values of the individuals involved.

        It may be fair to observe that Muldoon’s focus was nationalist but that in no way tempered the visceral dislike the working class largely regarded him with…and was returned in kind.

        It is not necessary to gild the dated lily in order to demonstrate the compost of today.

        • In my experience @ WK (which includes having had to be one of the Public Service CEO’s ‘minders’ in a past life – expected to help cover up some of the bullshit), your analysis is pretty bloody accurate. Thankfully Karma eventually got him, but unfortunately others have continued on regardless …. as master-of-the-universe wonder boys, well-versed in the art of bullshit and lying straight-faced to their minister.
          Hopefully, those ministers might wake up soon and realise in many cases they’re being conned – although 6 months in, I don’t see much of that happening …. so far they seem to have complete faith in ‘their officials’

          It’s pretty bloody obvious that there are a number of contributors here (TDB) and TS that also have some direct experience re the state of our PS (pre and post the ‘reforms’.) The worst of it is happening at managerial level – muddle, and to a lesser extent senior management.

          And you don’t have to be one of those “Hard Left bloody conspiracy theorist types”. Even dear wee Mathew acknowledged on one of the 4th Estate’s Sunday morning ego trips as a panel member – the public service (i.e. its senior corporatised management) has a vested interest in preserving the status quo. Which is why all this is going to be this coalition government’s biggest battles – if only they’d wake up and realise it

          (the interweb thingy is ummm ‘slow’ possibly this post is a dupe)

      • Fair comment Katipo
        Muldoon was an excellent keynesian economist and a nationalist. He just got up everyone’s nose.
        D J S

      • WK thanks for listing the New Right Fight article. Brilliant summary of both of these two rotten political parties who have destroyed our great country over the past 30 odd years.

        Sadly I don’t see any big changes for the future, lots of talk etc, lots of handwringing about fighting poverty, but nothing concrete that will help my children or my grandchildren to live the life that I grew up with in the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s.

        Sure times were tough, but we were all well fed (no obese kids in my school photos) we may have had pretty basic clothing, and most had a good warm home to live in, and for those who didn’t – there were the well built state houses.

        But most important, wages were adequate to raise families on one income, and mothers were at home to care for the children.

        I don’t see any of our present government ministers really making any changes – I may be wrong, but time will tell.

        I just hope I didn’t waste my vote last election.

  5. ‘The Labour-NZ First coalition government has given him a billion dollars to kick our flagging regional economies into life.’

    Oh well, I suppose that beats the tired old cliché we heard for about 20 years of ‘kick-starting the economy;.

    Isn’t it odd that no amount of kicking or kick-starting ever fixes anything, and in fact makes everything worse.

    So what Shane Jones is actually saying is: “We’re not making things worse fast enough. Give me more power over the bureaucracy and I will be able make things worse faster.”…..more people, more overcrowding, more consumption, more pollution, less natural world, less life.

    Thankfully Peak Oil will bring the insanity of mainstream thinking to a halt. And that halt will occur quite soon, but nowhere soon enough to save the environment, which is collapsing both locally and globally as a consequence of ‘economic development’.

  6. Shane needs to go back to watching porno movies, because he’s an intellectual lightweight with a big mouth.

      • I do remember Shane Jones, the Fisheries board member, used to be ruthless. But on the other side of the boardroom you’re just like every one else’s bitch. It may sound counter intuitive but you have to make every one else profitable so that board members become your bitch.

    • Typical reaction from a member of the rabid right who are terrified that their crooked little public service glee club are about to get some serious scrutiny.

  7. One of the authors of the GreaterAuckland transport blog used a phrase similar to “resisting the minister” when describing NZTA’s relationship with Labour’s changed priorities towards PT.

  8. This seems the most fundamental issue of democracy imaginable.
    What Chris describes is a completely dysfunctional democracy. If a minister can’t require his ministry to implement policy, and can’t replace them in short order if they don’t act accordingly, what is the point of having a minister or a policy or elections?
    It seems this has to be fixed before anything else can be.
    D J S

    • Welcome to the 1980’s at its worst, followed by generation or two that have grown up knowing not much else other than the culture it kicked off.
      It’s probably why most gNatz look more like Harcourts Real Estate agents than politicians (going foward)

    • That’s right! It seems a basic requirement of government that it is able to function to enact policies expediently.

  9. This is very informative and an incredibly interesting unpacking of recent history, how the government policies are transacted or not and also answered that question about Peter’s! Which always seemed way out of proportion, especially how things have evolved and I certainly applaud the way he called National out.. Now you have pointed out how the system of government operate, its all too easy to see the realism in what you say, so what is to be done? This government has to do something if it is bring held up enacting policy by an endless stream of roadblocks by the policy advising Mandarins.

    • “the executive arm of the New Zealand state is not designed to serve democracy – but to thwart it. It was reconfigured in the 1980s to make sure that the way the populist National Party prime minister, Rob Muldoon, governed New Zealand could never be replicated.”

      Yes but Rob Muldoon did not sell NZ did he?

      As Wild Katipo says above, and he would order those “errant” CEO’s and executives to comply with his objectives then. Then we didn’t have errant executives as we have now.

      We now need to get the current government to exercise their ‘executive leadership’ now to control our public services executives so they comply with Government policy or get rid of them.

      We all expect the government to control all public servants not the other way around.

      This is just common sense.

      We need this sorted before the government enters into the crazy TPP 11 crap agreement now.

      • The Elites are behind this. With there new world order. Thats where this is going if you stand back. The elites want democracy gone and to reduce the world population. Well i think you will find many beige brigade wearers aspire to elitism therefore follow the elitist agenda.

      • Indeed Muldoon did order his errant CEOs (not that they were that back then)…and usually to act against the interests of the worker…he wasnt named Piggy for no reason….be bloody careful what you wish for.

    • Well if I was minister of social development I would very much like to give every one a decent standard of living but I wouldn’t do much different from any one else because there’s a lot of crazy people out there who want to take over power through brute force. But Carmel Sepuloni is more feminine, right? She is a really smooth operator, not bound by chauvinism causing her to put the peddle down so to speak. So we create a scenario where Carmel can manipulate various bureaucrats and various populace in order to take control of MSD.

      So phase 1 is, what does Carmel need to do to gain more ministerial power over MSD? The first thing she’d have to do is gain the trust and loyalty of the people and even there emotions. She’d probably have to create fear that goes against these ingrained neoliberal ideals and that would give her more power. So she would need to cut down on the checks and balances that define neoliberalism. The first thing she’d need to do that is to have some sort of manufactured crises. And the crises that Iv chosen is essentially a split between brown rights and crown rights. This is an old battle that split the country during the land wars and that’s kind of the four front of the issue that we have here. And Carmel has to make it so the opposition parties are the enemies that are going to bring about this crises so that she can vilify them and lead the people to support any kind of Social Welfare Policy that she and her own people are behind and instal her own people into power.

      So under this scenario the Police Union threatens to unionise MSD under the guise of the opposition party, making the opposition her puppet. Following this the Taxpayers Union also threatens to join in on this neoliberal welfare scheme. And these are two Union bodies that in real life have strong connections with the National party so you’d probably want be the first to do so. So one of the major problems is there would still be opposition party whistle blowers still in those unions and there’d probably be a power struggle, and so there are a lot of National party donors who also donate to the police and taxpayers Union and its a bit of a grey area in who actually commands these two unions but a lot of the time it’s actually the public feeding them information which would be harmful to the Labour Party as all right wing muppets do and we are talking about capitalists who might actually organise MSD workers against the Labour Party.

      So basically Carmel doesn’t even need to create a false flag attack because she’s got a situation where a whole bunch of neoliberal capitalists with questionable loyalties and there’s going to be a fire fight between brown rights activists and pro crown populace. So she’ll have a crises and at that point she’ll need to act, the country will be on the verge of a state of emergency and friends in the media start putting out stories saying we need to suspend the CEO of MSD and Carmel will come and and say something like “it is with great reluctance that I have agreed to this calling.” And as much as we’d like to preserve democracy we are on the edge of a state of emergency and like Jenny Shipley before Carmel we must tighten the belts of MSD and it’s CEO in order to restore MSD to full function. And remember this is the opposition creating a fear that all unions are going to move to protect there neoliberal racket and right away Carmel basically gets rid of all of the Labour Parties political opposition and the people will also see Carmel as a hero because she’s protecting the people and the country from those who want to destroy it. And most importantly it wasn’t our idea it was some political pundit(s) idea, Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…, so she didn’t want to cut MSD salaries right across the board, she did it very reluctantly but she had to do it.

      So basically the Minister of MSD can just sit back and wait till MSD staff fuck up which they always do and sanction there salaries commensurate with there abilities.

  10. Chris

    You appear in your article to be flirting with and nostalgic for a return to Muldoonism. This was a period of NZ history that boarded on dictatorship and possibly facisim, with Muldoon more or less governing and making decisions alone, outside the democratic process; for example on interest rate levels, on what could or could not be imported etc etc. Normally you would be very critical of this type of governance.

    More typically you are, rightly, a strident defender of democratic processes and principles. I prefer this version of yourself.

    The indépendance of the NZ public service has served this country well over the years – it provides checks and balances on the use of power in a way similar to perhaps the US Congress and Senate. At the same time much has also actually been achieved through the public service by effective cabinet ministers; including some some very significant policy changes (‘Tomorrows schools; Working for Families are two such examples).

    Jones needs to learn how to work in the system and with the system, as other cabinet ministers have done over the years. For him (and you) to pine for a form of absolute power to do what you want is abhorrent and needs to be resisted.

    • WTF makes you think that? Is it your inability to think of any alternative options ( I mean other than what we have now, other than what we once had )
      On Off 1 0 If you’re not for me you really must be against me

  11. It’s time this country had a quality second house in Parliament, if we must stick to the obsolete Westminster model.

    Once the Public Service could slow down or mitigate some of the crazier ventures of ambitious yet less-than-wise politicians. Acting like a senate or similar.

    Now ‘they’re as alike as peas in a pod’ with many in local government and the public service acting as de facto parliamentarians.

    Time for a better model less able to be hijacked by the avaricious few.

    • Yes!
      At last someone who agrees with me that we need an elected upper house.
      I thought I was the only one!

      • You’re not the only one by any means!
        Any for my money, it’d be an elected upper house that is representative of regional interests.
        There’s a whole heap of stuff that’s worth considering.
        I remember someone on one of these “hard left conspiracy theorist blogs” (/sarc) that had a bright idea of putting an expiry date on any and all legislation passed under urgency.
        Term limits on CEOs might not be a bad idea too, and putting the kaibosch on their ability to flip back and forward between the government and private sectors.

  12. Quote:
    “In theory, this is precisely what is supposed to happen under the existing system. Government ministers inform their CEO’s as to what is expected of them – policy wise – and it is then their job to make sure the policy is carried out. Between the communication and the execution of the policy, however, a Minister’s bureaucratic advisers are expected to offer “free and frank advice” as to whether the measures being proposed are practical, affordable or even desirable. When that discussion ends, however, the responsibility for actually implementing the agreed policy rests almost entirely with the CEO – not the minister.”

    So what is the problem, ‘free and frank advice’, that is ok, the Minister does not have to take it, it is simple.

    This is a cop out and total BS by Shane Jones. The truth is, he is realising, he will not get his billion trees planted in the time-frame he had hoped to do it.

    Instead of realising his own short comings, in not having planned that and other policies well enough in advance, and in not having sought good advice before launching it during the election campaign, he went ranting on like a populist, same as some in Labour did.

    Now they all realise, they have oversold themselves, told the voters BS, and they cannot deliver what they had set out to deliver. Also have they themselves set the tight fiscal policy they now want to abide with, which means that they will not spend as much as is urgently needed to sort the country out again.

    While much blame lies with the past government, it is cheap and nasty tactics to blame the bureaucrats.

    The bureaucrats, I mean the CEOs, they did largely do what the government told them, including the last one. They told their underling staff what to do, and the rest is execution of orders, from the very top.

    Under the State Sector Act the government can set its priorities, so there you go, Shane Jones can sit down with his fellow Ministers and the PM, and have priorities set for the CEOs and their departments that he as Minister oversees and administers.

    “The State Sector Act specifies separate roles for the Government and the Commissioner in the appointment of chief executives:

    * The Government specifies its priorities in relation to chief executive positions;

    * The State Services Commissioner, acting independently, selects and recommends to the Government the candidate who best fits the requirements of the job.

    * Cabinet accepts the Commissioner’s recommendation, the Governor-General signs the warrant, and the State Services Commissioner appoints him or her as chief executive.”

    If the government has objections, I am sure they will have a word with the Commissioner, and tighten their priorities.

    Confirming the position description

    When a chief executive position is about to become vacant, the Commissioner consults the Minister of State Services and the Responsible Minister regarding the requirements of the position. The Responsible Minister also provides input into the draft position description.

    Cabinet confirms the position description as a basis for selecting a suitable candidate for appointment. The experience, qualifications and competencies required for a chief executive are summarised in the New Zealand Public Service Chief Executive Competency Profile.”

    This is what should ensure a more independent public service, than what Shane Jones seems to have on his mind.

    Once the Nats would get in, they would appoint all their cronies, following the kind of system Shane seems to have on his mind.

    So bring in the laws to create a more efficient and effective system within departments and agencies, and get on with it, do not blame a class of people.

    I am sure, if a CEO does not follow the ministerial directives and policy set for them to execute, they have disqualified themselves and deserve to be dismissed.

    • Hmmm interesting, so this means that the existing CEO’s can only expect to hold onto their positions if they in fact follow directives. If they don’t then the provision is already in place to get rid of them…Judy like that? So what is Shane Jones on about if it is actually in his power to replace CEO’s?

  13. So if Shane wants to fiddle with the State Sector Act, does he also want to fiddle with this Act?

    ‘Crown Entities Act 2004’

    The State Sector Act:

    Section 28:

    “28 Delegation of functions or powers of appropriate Minister

    (1) The appropriate Minister in relation to a department or departmental agency may from time to time, either generally or particularly, delegate to the chief executive of that department or departmental agency all or any of the Minister’s functions and powers under this Act or any other Act, including functions or powers delegated to the Minister under this Act or any other Act.

    (2) Every delegation under this section shall be in writing.

    (3) No delegation under this section shall include the power to delegate under this section.

    (4) The power of the appropriate Minister to delegate under this section—
    (a) is subject to any prohibitions, restrictions, or conditions contained in any other Act in relation to the delegation of the Minister’s functions or powers; but
    (b) does not limit any power of delegation conferred on the Minister by any other Act.

    (5) Subject to any general or special directions given or conditions imposed by the appropriate Minister, the chief executive may exercise any functions or powers so delegated to the chief executive in the same manner and with the same effect as if they had been conferred on the chief executive directly by this section and not by delegation.

    (6) Where the chief executive purports to act pursuant to any delegation under this section, the chief executive shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be presumed to be acting in accordance with the terms of the delegation.

    (7) No such delegation shall affect or prevent the exercise of any function or power by the appropriate Minister, nor shall any such delegation affect the responsibility of the appropriate Minister for the actions of any person acting under the delegation.”

    • What is it that makes me think you’re an ambitious ps busy climbing the ranks?
      Your ‘theoreticals’ are impeccable @Marc. It’s just that the reality is often somewhat different.
      I wish you a very happy career (going forward)

      • You are misguided by that presumption, I have nothing to do with the public service, except being a citizen using their so called ‘service’, which has become somewhat lacking during nine years of National in government.

  14. Yes , there is no-one in government departments that says the “buck stops here!” I experienced that first hand with Steven Joyce as Minister of Education. My son is experiencing that with ACC. No fair resolution has resulted to date with both matters and we are talking years….
    Now I understand why, thank you Chris Trotter.

  15. Too many state servants in there for the wrong reason if they don’t genuinely care they should f…k of simple as that sift out this lot and put people that do. I know I see it in my own job daily.

  16. It can’t be in the state sector’s interests to be obstructionist to this Coalition government. If the Nats get back in because Labour can’t achieve its goals, how long will it be before the next round of tax cuts results in more civil servants losing their jobs and the rest having their salaries frozen or given minimal increases?

    Methinks they should be careful how much they hinder the Coalition. A national government is no friend of civil servants or the PSA.

  17. I guess a further illustration of the point that “Yes Minister” was actually a documentary.

    Whatever, go Shane!

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