Dear Wellington elite bureaucrats – I’m sorry this has taken so long to write but I’ve just stopped laughing

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Boss Womble at the Ministry of Public Wombles, Peter Hughes

I’m sorry this has taken so long to write but I’ve just stopped laughing. Early last month, Boss Womble at the Ministry of Public Wombles, Peter Hughes, wrote this hilarious column…

Leadership depth’s been lacking but we’re working on it

Thousands of public servants will have been surprised to read Kerry McDonald’s There’s a critical need to rebuild the capability of the public service (Sept 5).

Like me, they have a different view of our public service.

The Public Service has a unique role in our nation. It is part of the constitutional architecture that guarantees our form of government and its legitimacy. Sitting behind this are the fundamental principles of political neutrality, free, frank and fearless advice, appointments by merit, open government and stewardship.

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New Zealand is one of the last countries standing when it comes to a truly neutral, trusted public service. There are reasons why our public service has an enviable international reputation. We rank second among 38 countries in the 2019 International Civil Service Effectiveness Index.

The latest Kiwis Count Survey (2018) shows New Zealanders have increasing trust and satisfaction with their public services. And the 2018 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index ranks New Zealand second out of 180 countries.

Yes, there have been some difficult issues recently and there may well be more in future.

With each generation of citizens come higher and higher expectations of government and the public service. That is a good thing. And we must rise to the challenge.

No public servant gets out of bed wanting to do a bad job when they come to work. The public service is New Zealand’s biggest organisation, employing about 50,000 people, 350,000 if you include all state services agencies. The public service employs some of the country’s best talent. I back our public service leaders to do a good job.

But from time to time things will go wrong. I can’t promise perfection but we will deliver integrity.

…I’m sorry, integrity?

Where was the public service integrity when the Ministry of Housing threw hundreds of beneficiaries onto the street over the state house meth hysteria?

Where was the public service integrity when MSD took solo mothers to court over welfare debt they should never had been given?

Where was the public service integrity when the NZDF lied about Afghan civilian deaths?

Where was the public service integrity when beneficiaries are queuing at 2am in the morning because the staff are so toxic?

Where was the public service integrity when Corrections only started last year helping illiterate prisoners fill in the paperwork to allow them to apply for home detention?

Where was the public service integrity when Oranga Tamariki lied and manipulated when stealing that baby?

Where was the public service integrity when MPI bent over backwards for commercial interests?

Where was the public service integrity when Police are routinely allowed to chase members of the public to actual death without any reform of the chase policy?

Where was the public service integrity when Police illegally searched Nicky Hagers house?

Where was the public service integrity when multiple state agencies employed corporate spies to circumvent offical oversight?

Where was the public service integrity when the NZ Police illegally seized my banking records and told every bank in this country that I was a computer fraudster?

Where was the public service integrity when neoliberal philosophy infected the entire public service and reduced citizens to ‘clients’?

When we have an actual public service maybe we can feel proud about it, but when you have debt collectors employed as WINZ staff, let’s stop pretending your function is to help citizens of Aotearoa, you are the restraints and choking devices of a neoliberal state that keeps the poor in their place.

‘Tegridy’ indeed!

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. I’d love to know just who were ‘sampled’. This time by Gravitas, previously Neilson. Even IF it’s an improvement on 2016, that’s not very high bar to have to hop over.
    Then there’s all the neoliberalese that goes with it”
    ( “Kiwis Count 2018 Annual Report All three headline measures have improved in the past year. In particular, trust in the public sector BRAND ……… “)
    Nice to know our public service is now a brand. It explains a hell of a lot

  2. Where is public service integrity when it comes to selling off the land to overseas interests?
    We thought that had stopped when Labour came to power but no, I see an article on Stuff showing the OIO sold off $2.3 billion in forests to overseas interests since 2017.
    How the fuck are we meant to have affordable housing if you sell off the materials to make those houses?

  3. Successive administrations have bought into the efficiency mantra and reformed the public service into a profit driven corporate neoliberal model. Morality is an expensive luxury

  4. That seemingly self congratulatory piece on our government bureaucracy sounds too much like an old
    Transparency International report on the country. I used to take it seriously and then found it risible.
    Looking to see why, it seemed that it was an aggregation of a number of reckons of how the busy beltway? feels about their daily business round. Hardly an objective view.

  5. Hughes-what a prize wanker.

    Yes, there is a Wellington bubble, along with all the other ‘bubbles’ that humans tend to operate in-from provincial sheep shaggers, to precariously employed and gen rent.
    Public servants however seem to delight in making as many peoples lives as possible more miserable than they need to be.

    The State sector was perverted by Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson’s neo liberal followers into a toxic remnant of its original purpose. How to change this is in the people’s hands as always.

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