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Nice Words Mr English, But Reality Bites For Public Services

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Grant Robertson
Grant Robertson

Bill English has offered up some interesting ideas for the future delivery of public services, but the reality is the National government has already undermined the quality of services that New Zealanders are receiving, Labour State Services spokesperson Grant Robertson said.

"It is great to hear Bill English talk about more innovative and responsive public services. All New Zealanders would support those concepts. But the reality is, National's approach has been to look to cut services and staff rather than support new thinking," Grant Robertson said.

"Cutting 1500 positions, many frontline, by his own admission taking $250 million out of public services and removing programmes in education, CYFS and elsewhere, will inevitably effect the quality of services.

"The reports I am hearing from public servants is that they are under more pressure than ever with the loss of staffing, and that in some departments morale is at an all time low. It is incredibly hard to think innovatively when you are struggling to keep your head above water.

"Mr English says National's policy is about respecting the professionalism of the public service, but one of his first actions was to bring in hand-picked 'purchase advisors' to find cuts in expenditure. When this is your starting point, it is hard to take seriously the claim that you are respecting the advice of officials.

"In his speech to the Institute of Public Administration and Policy Studies seminar yesterday Mr English again signalled the likelihood of almost no pay increases in the public sector over the next five years.

"This continues a potentially dangerous path that could lead to a reduction in services and losing some of our essential public servants such as nurses and teachers overseas." Grant Robertson says Public servants are realistic about the financial situation that the government is in. But they also rightly expect that the government will bargain in good faith.

"Mr English's discussion of easier access to government information and reduction of duplication is welcome, and deserving of further analysis. "However any move to give the private sector a say over the management of assets such as schools and hospitals needs to be treated with caution and avoid any suggestions that it is a precursor to privatisation," Grant Robertson said.

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