Grant finally appreciates he has to fight the Wellington Bureaucratic Elite



Deputy PM Grant Robertson setting up new ‘implementation unit’ to make sure Government policies actually happen

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson will become the Government’s informal Minister for Delivery, thanks to a newly created “implementation unit” within the Government’s powerful Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, or DPMC.

The move comes after a term of Government in which several big-ticket plans fell apart as they were implemented – most notably KiwiBuild and light rail in Auckland – and is inspired by a unit set up by British PM Tony Blair.

Chris Trotter’s must read blog last month highlights the power of the neoliberal Wellington elites and the power thy wield…

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The State Sector Act (1988) restricted politicians to the formulation of policy. The implementation of that policy was the responsibility of the CEO of the relevant ministry or department. Hiring and firing, and holding his or her underlings accountable for their mistakes – was the CEO’s job – not the Minister’s. Politicians had no role to play in “operational matters”.

That this arrangement constituted a drastic reduction in the power of government ministers to “make things happen” was (and remains) entirely deliberate. That it also profoundly disempowers the people’s representatives, working through the Executive, to give practical expression to the people’s will is, likewise, completely intentional. The neoliberal revolution has always been about limiting the effectiveness of democratic institutions. The State Sector Act fulfils this revolutionary function admirably. 

…The greatest enemy of the new Government is not the National Party, it’s the self interested Ministry fiefdoms whose internal right wing ideological stance will strangle any real attempt at culture change or left wing policy implementation.

There is a legendary story that David Lange would save up all his a cigar and Cigarette ash in his car until he left Wellington on a Friday night so he could dump it on the Wellington motorway. That summed up his contempt.

The great Unionist Robert Reid said it best…

…Jacinda’s kindness is no match for the Wellington Bureaucratic Elite and Grant in the 4th year is getting on top of that.


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  1. What the…

    Is this just another managerialist interface being inserted, or is Mr Robertson actually going to dominate and try to turn some of the fifth columnist neo lib hard liners in the Departments and Ministries into his “bitches”?

    Hopefully there is going to be some reapplying for positions going on here etc., but dunno, sourced via a Blairist template, is the Implementation Unit really going to be able to kick the pernicious State Sector Act’s arse?

  2. “Grant finally appreciates he has to fight the Wellington Bureaucratic Elite”
    It’s taken a while though eh?
    Imagine all that stuff they call political capital that’s already been needlessly spent.
    Let’s see what comes of it before we all rejoice and start bursting forth with Hark The Herald Angels Sing.

  3. Nice spin – it actually points to a lack of ministerial ability for people in over $250k p.a. It smacks of something Gordon Brittas would do at the Whitbury New Town Leisure centre. Perhaps Colin and Carole can assist with this department’s implementation?

  4. MBIE in particular is a case in point….. Set up by none other than Steven Joyce.
    Boy do they need a big cleanout !!!

  5. I enjoy his statement in favour of your and my priorities but the bureaucracy is way second to the ‘winter of discontent’, or cautious realpolitik in Grant and Jace’s heads. Immediate worst challenge ever and their innate caution learnt in the neoliberal years. There should have been a war government in 1990 to deal with climate change — 30 years to increase the wealth of the rich. And we, the Left, knew that.

  6. Their neoliberal knowledge got them 2 terms and probly a third. Big doubts if they will step aside from their immediate victories over real reality.


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