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2012 Ian Axford Fellows Seminars
In August, the six 2012 Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellows in Public Policy will present the findings from their research during a seminar series jointly hosted by the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships Board and IPANZ.
MONDAY 20 AUGUST
Caroline Park Seminar title yet to be confirmed
TUESDAY 21 AUGUST
FRIDAY 24 AUGUST
Bruce Vaughn “The United States and New Zealand: Perspectives on a Pacific Partnership”
David Vannier “Primary and Secondary School Science Education in Aotearoa New Zealand – Policies and Practices for a Better Future”
MONDAY 27 AUGUST
WEDNESDAY 22 AUGUST
WEDNESDAY 29 AUGUST
Cornelia Weiss Seminar title yet to be confirmed
All seminars will be held from 12.30 to 1.30 pm at Te Puni Kōkiri, 143 Lambton Quay, Wellington
Christian Stearns “Rebuilding Sustainable Communities: Partnerships for Social Housing” Craig Lebamoff “If You Trust Us, You Trust Us. New Zealand in the Post 9/11 World: Balancing Security and Privacy Rights the Kiwi Way”
The Axford Fellowships are for outstanding mid-career US professionals to research and gain firsthand experience of public policy in New Zealand. Each fellow is sponsored by a public agency. At the end of their fellowship, each fellow submits a report on their research. These report back seminars provide an additional opportunity
for the fellows to share their research findings. The Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships were established by the New Zealand Government to reinforce links between New Zealand and the US. The programme is administered by Fulbright New Zealand for the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships Board.
J U LY 2 01 2
Journal of the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand
PUBLISHER The Institute of Public Administration New Zealand PO Box 5032, Wellington, New Zealand Phone: +64 4 463 6940, Fax: +64 4 463 6939 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ipanz.org.nz ISSN 0110-5191 (Print) ISSN 1176-9831 (Online) The whole of the literary matter of Public Sector is copyright. Please contact the editor if you are interested in reproducing any Public Sector content. EDITOR Shelly Farr Biswell: email@example.com WRITERS Marieke Hilhorst John R Martin Rose Northcott Jane Tolerton PROOFREADER Nikki Crutchley JOURNAL ADVISORY GROUP Len Cook Dr Chris Eichbaum, Chair Susan Hitchiner Julian Light Ross Tanner ADVERTISING Phone: +64 4 463 6940 Fax: +64 4 463 6939 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org DESIGN J&K Design PRINTING Lithoprint SCOPE IPANZ is committed to promoting informed debate on issues already significant in the way New Zealanders govern themselves, or which are emerging as issues calling for decisions on what sorts of laws and management New Zealanders are prepared to accept.
CONTENTS 2 Newsbrief 3 Local government news 4 President’s message by Len Cook 5 Guest editorial: Better Public Services for New Zealanders By Iain Rennie and Maarten Wevers
6–10 10 11
Public sector restructuring – on balance Executive watch Obituary: Peter Brooks
Sharing our history – the 28th Māori Battalion website
12–13 Sharing our history – the 28th Māori Battalion website 14–15 Budget 2012 – planning for the future
Viewpoints from Finance Minister Bill English and Labour Finance Spokesperson David Parker
16–19 Local government reform – a swing and a miss? 20–21 Winners of the IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards 2012 22–23 In the cards – Work and Income’s hardship assistance payment card programme
Point of view: Valuing local identity key to better local government By Celia Wade-Brown
INFORMATION FOR AUTHORS Public Sector considers contributions for each issue. Please contact the journal’s editor for more information.
In the cards
SUBSCRIPTIONS IPANZ welcomes both corporate and individual membership and journal subscriptions. Please email email@example.com, phone +64 4 463 6940 or visit www.ipanz.org.nz to register online. DISCLAIMER Opinions expressed in Public Sector are those of various authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editor, the journal advisory group or IPANZ. Every effort is made to provide accurate and factual content. The publishers and editorial staff, however, cannot accept responsibility for any inadvertent errors or omissions that may occur.
Local government reform
Winners of the IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards 2012
Front cover images: New Zealand Vineyard – © Patricia Hofmeester | Dreamstime.com; Science – © Olivier Le Queinec | Dreamstime.com; Call Centre – © Andres Rodriguez | Dreamstime.com Public Sector is printed on an economically and environmentally responsible paper sourced from internationally certified Well Managed Forests and manufactured with EMAS accreditation (ISO 14001). July 2012 Public Sector 1
NEWS B RIEF
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25 Percent Group launched
RealMe – set to connect people and services
DEVELOPMENT of a new online service – RealMe – has been unveiled by the Department of Internal Affairs and New Zealand Post, who are partnering to make the new service available. The service will enable people to more easily interact with public and private sector organisations. Peter MacKenzie, DIA Identity and Data Services General Manager, says RealMe will let people access many services with a single logon and also prove who they are online when they need to. “People who choose to upgrade to an identity verified account with this process will be able to access a much larger range of online services than are possible at present.” He says the organisations that people can access via RealMe will include government agencies and local authorities, as well as private sector agencies and corporates such as insurance, telecommunications and power companies; subject to the passing of the Electronic Identity Verification Bill, which is currently before Parliament. When launched, a consumer who has a verified RealMe account will then be able to prove who they are online for organisations offering services such as: the census, bank accounts, government benefits, passports, registering to vote, and obtaining and renewing licences. www.realme.govt.nz 2 Public Sector July 2012
TWENTY-five per cent female participation on boards by 2015. That is the objective of the 25 Percent Group, which was launched by Prime Minister John Key in June. 25 Percent Group Convenor and CEO of Goldman Sachs New Zealand, Andrew Barclay, says that while the economic benefits of gender diversity at board level are well proven and widely acknowledged, effective action to break down barriers and bring about real change has been slow in coming. “We can point to at least four recent international studies that prove companies governed by boards with a higher percentage of women members perform better. “To achieve better results, the business community must move decisively to remove the barriers that preclude women from participating in the highest levels of leadership,” Barclay says. Women’s Affairs Minister Jo Goodhew said at the launch, “This initiative is complementary to the Government’s commitment to increase the participation of women in governance to 45 per cent in the public sector.” Currently women hold 9.3 per cent of private sector directorships in New Zealand and 41 per cent of state sector board positions.
Determining human resource capabilities STATE sector agencies are currently completing this year’s human resource capability survey. The survey provides information on staff numbers and diversity; rates of pay; employment benefits; recruitment and retention rates; and leave. Part of the survey is used to monitor the number of positions within the cap on core government administration. Completed surveys are due to the State Services Commission on 13 July 2012.
Board appointment and induction guidelines IN April, the State Services Commission published the Board Appointment and Induction Guidelines to support the work of state sector officials, as well as ministers and their office staff who are involved in the appointment and induction of board members. The State Services Commission will keep the guidelines under review and amend them regularly. Suggestions for revision or improvement are welcome, and can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.ssc.govt.nz
Survey looks at fraud in the public sector IN 2011, Auditor-General Lyn Provost commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out a survey on fraud awareness, prevention, and detection to gain better insight into fraud in the public sector. PwC surveyed almost 2000 people working in the public sector, achieving a response rate of nearly 74 per cent. In her overview of the Parliamentary paper reporting on the survey’s findings, Provost says that overall results from the survey “show a strong commitment within the New Zealand public sector to protecting public resources”. She adds, “We cannot be complacent if we are to maintain our good record of keeping fraud at bay. It is particularly important to be vigilant in the current global economic climate, because there is an increased risk of fraud when people struggle to make ends meet.” www.oag.govt.nz/2012/fraud-awareness/docs/fraud-awareness.pdf
NEW Zealand will be holding the first nationwide ShakeOut drill in September. Led by the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, organisers aim to have one million people participate in the event which is scheduled for 26 September 2012 at 9.26 am. www.shakeout.govt.nz
LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
One of a range of transitional city projects installed to bring people back to Christchurch’s central city. Photo: Christchurch City Council.
In transition – projects support Christchurch’s CBD
WORK has begun installing a range of transitional city projects within Christchurch’s central city to bring people back to the heart of the city. Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says, “These low-cost, temporary projects are part of the council’s commitment to help support business and people back into the central city by improving the environment, pedestrian safety, and creating interest in the area.” Parker says the central city has been constantly changing with the demolition of buildings, reduction of the cordon, and businesses beginning to move back to the fringes of the cordon. “This transitional stage is important for the
council to explore new ideas and concepts to help with the recovery of the area and enable residents to reconnect with the heart of their city as we start to transition into the restoration and reconstruction phase,” he says. The projects will last a few months or a few years depending on the nature of the project and how quickly new areas of the central city are re-opened.
Joining forces to combat earthquake waste ENVIRONMENT Canterbury, Christchurch City Council, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and the Selwyn and Waimakariri district councils have joined forces to monitor the movement and disposal of earthquake waste which could prevent the rebuild of the
city and restrict future land use. Over the past 14 months, senior staff from the agencies have been overseeing the management of earthquake disposal with monitoring work being carried out by Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury staff. Recently, funding has been secured to establish a dedicated team of five people – the Waste and Environmental Management Team – to manage compliance related to earthquake waste and contaminated land for two years. Before the earthquakes, the waste industry in Christchurch was designed to handle 225,000 tonnes of city waste and 600,000 tonnes of contaminated waste each year. It is estimated that the earthquakes will produce around 8.75 million tonnes of contaminated waste.
Tauranga City Council explores public/private partnership TAURANGA City Council recently invited registrations of interest from companies wishing to be considered for a project to redevelop Greerton Library and the surrounding land. The project consists of the development of a new library facility and the adjacent commercial site on land owned by the council. The proposed project includes the existing Greerton Library, a commercial site with four retail tenancies, two residential dwellings and adjoining land used as open space, car parking, and service lanes. The council will require the parking, open space, and access to be retained as part of any proposal.
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Tackling alcohol-related issues in Auckland IN JUNE, a newly established taskforce agreed on actions to reduce alcoholrelated, antisocial behaviour on Auckland’s inner-city streets. Its action plan includes: • voluntary one-way door policy for bars and clubs after 3am and investigating a broader night bus service, with better alignment between hospitality trading hours and public transport • increased community-based patrols, including Māori, Pacific and Asian wardens • improved carpark lighting and establishing parking limits targeting five ‘pre-loading’ hot spots
• instant fines for breaching liquor bans • improved on-street management of queues • active enforcement to eliminate the sale of single drinks from off-licence outlets • increased visibility of security officers • Auckland Council’s liquor licensing rapid response teams working more closely with Police. The taskforce, which includes key stakeholders including Auckland Council and Police, has been formed at the direction of Auckland Mayor Len Brown to address alcohol and safety issues within Auckland’s central city. July 2012 Public Sector 3
By Len Cook ll members of IPANZ will wish to give their very sincerest congratulations to Dame Margaret Bazely on her appointment as one of the 20 members of the Order of New Zealand, and just the third public service leader since the order was established in 1987. Dr Clarence Beeby and Henry Lang were the other two honoured in this way. Dame Margaret has had a public service career beginning with nursing that has spanned five decades, and at every turn she has been an extraordinary beacon for advancing practices, ideas, policy, and organisations of government. She has achieved many great positions, won honours, and brought distinction to the organisations she has led, across more fields than anyone else of her peers from several generations.
Serving on the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance is one of the many roles Dame Margaret has fulfilled in recent years. Pictured here: Dame Margaret Bazley and Peter Salmon. It is difficult to imagine anyone else who more strongly personifies what is embraced by the concept of “better public services”, and in this she provides a strong reminder that it is the know-how; informed vision; courage; strength of mind; and capacity to engage within, across, and beyond organisations that underpins public service leadership. Dame Margaret is undoubtedly a great public face of public administration in New Zealand. 4 Public Sector July 2012
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Sherie Pointon who is stepping down from her role as IPANZ’s first Executive Officer. During her tenure the organisation has gone from strength to strength. She was keenly involved in running events, managing the membership, organising the annual awards ceremony, increasing the visibility of IPANZ, and extending its relationships with key interest groups. We will greatly miss her enthusiasm, can-do spirit, and her tenacity and wish her well in her future professional endeavours.
Better public services We have finally recognised that independent agencies, operating autonomously could not deliver effectively the public services that the New Zealand public has come to expect. The new super ministries, lead departments, and central agency role review remind us of the time prior to 1988, when large ministries provided, albeit inconsistently, a degree of value network leadership that was generally not understood or recognised by any of us at the time. In the quest for the most efficient, longterm accumulation and use of resources, we need to now question whether it makes sense to operate independently some 2500 schools; nearly 40 publicly funded universities, polytechnics and wānanga; 20 district health boards; several energy companies; and manifold independent entities in quite a few other domains including local government. We see across all forms of commercial endeavour the logistics revolution has enabled integration not only across industries but among countries, in food, electronics, and almost all other consumer goods. In New Zealand, Fonterra leads this revolution, which has so far escaped the meat industry, as well as the wider public sector, including local government. The authority to do the things that bring leadership to these immensely important common networks needs to be clearly placed. The National Health Board set up in 2009 has been one important response to this need. The time has come to assess whether the impact on New Zealand’s competitive position, our capacity to innovate and capture productivity gains that seem so obviously available can justify continued complacency about our rigid adoption of one particular model of institutions, which may be stifling rather than
inspiring the spread and impact of innovation wherever it exists. Ministers have shown a willingness to question key elements of our arrangements in New Zealand which is a welcome development. We need to recognise that we may have just scratched the surface in how we consider what we need to change, if we are to maintain our standard of living in the face of global economic uncertainty, environmental risks and opportunities, and huge shifts in the age structure of the population across all regions. We need to do this while capturing the benefits that information technology and science are opening up for us. Such a rethink will inevitably bring new relationships with business and community organisations, but our early understanding will sharpen our capacity to lead value networks vital to us, and determine the nature of those relationships. Kiwisaver and broadband network expansion typify such change, yet without a rethink of our basic model of government, we may limit ourselves in the opportunities we are able to seize.
Caring counts The Human Rights Commission published Caring Counts: Report of the Inquiry into the Aged Care Workforce in May 2012. The inquiry team considered workforce issues raised by both employees and employers in the aged care sector when developing the report’s final recommendations. www.hrc.co.nz/eeo/caring-countsreport-of-the-inquiry-into-the-agedcare-workforce
Better Public Services for New Zealanders By Iain Rennie and Sir Maarten Wevers
ew Zealand has for many years set and maintained a high standard of public services – a standard that is internationally recognised and regarded. It has done this in part by its ongoing preparedness to review and assess its services, just as it did in the 1980s, when the last major reform of the New Zealand public sector took place. Those reforms established a public service with strong vertical accountabilities with chief executives responsible for improvements in departmental efficiency and effectiveness, and for the levels of transparency through mechanisms such as statements of intent, as well as important legislative structures such as the State Sector Act 1988 and the Public Finance Act 1989. New Zealand’s system of clear accountabilities, combined with good patterns of cross-agency collaboration, enabled the public service to improve delivery of public services, and also to step up in times of crisis, such as the Canterbury earthquakes. However, with changing times the judgement was that we can do better still. The increasing pace of modern society, along with changes in the global economy and citizens’ expectations, have required us to better measure how we are meeting the needs of New Zealand now, and how we might do so in the future. While accountability has been tightened,
feedback loops between communities and policy advisors, and between operational and policy staff, have not always been as strong as they should be. In May 2011, the Government established an advisory group of public and private sector leaders and experts to provide recommendations on how the public service could work smarter; and achieve real progress on those major challenges and problems that mattered most to New Zealanders. The report concluded that the state sector needs to reform to deliver better results, better services and better value-for-money. To achieve this change, better leadership is critical. The Government agreed earlier this year that the Better Public Services Advisory Group Report should form the basis of a reform programme to be implemented over several years, but with immediate pace from 2012. The Better Public Services programme encourages greater agility and collaboration, and results-oriented leadership and accountability across the state sector, particularly with the core public service. The focus is on ‘function’ rather than ‘form’. This is reflected by the Government setting 10 challenging results that require groups of agencies and sectors to work together in different ways to achieve particular outcomes, and to publicly report on their progress in reaching them.
Targets have been developed and announced for each of the results areas. Each result has a minister and a chief executive responsible for achieving the target over the next three to five years, and for regularly publishing progress towards those targets. The programme also calls for stronger leadership, and the right culture and capability. This will occur through using new approaches – such as setting clear expectations of state services leaders in relation to continuous improvement, innovation and risk taking; by mandating new forms of leadership, such as functional leaders across the state sector; and by providing demonstrations of change, such as the innovative work in Christchurch, demonstrating how things can be done differently. The Better Public Services programme represents the start of a new chapter in the story of the New Zealand public service. It is a tangible demonstration of the commitment to make sure that our public service continues to adapt to the needs of New Zealand society and citizens to provide a better public service. Iain Rennie, State Services Commissioner, is the Head of the State Services. Sir Maarten Wevers was Chair of the Better Public Services Advisory Group and was the Chief Executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet until 13 June 2012.
Ten priority results Reducing long-term welfare dependency • reduce the number of people who have been on a workingage benefit for more than 12 months
Supporting vulnerable children • increase participation in early childhood education • increase infant immunisation rates and reduce the incidence of rheumatic fever • reduce the number of serious assaults on children
Boosting skills and employment • increase the proportion of 18 year olds with NCEA level 2 or equivalent qualification • increase the proportion of 25 to 34 year olds with advanced
trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees (at level 4 or above)
Reducing crime • reduce the rates of total crime, violent crime and youth crime • reduce re-offending
Making it easy to interact with the government • New Zealand businesses have a one-stop online shop for all government advice and support they need to run and grow their business • New Zealanders can complete their transactions with the government easily in a digital environment
See more information at www.ssc.govt.nz/better-public-service
July 2012 Public Sector 5
Public sector restructuring
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overnment agencies are being asked to constantly look at how they can better deliver services and do so without ramping up their costs, after all, says Prime Minister John Key, that’s what businesses and non-governmental organisations are doing all the time. In most cases the agencies are being asked to achieve that goal with reducing budgets as the Government moves to cut $1 billion in public sector spending over the next three years. From the regular diet of media reports, restructuring is a key tool being used by public sector bosses to bring about this transformation – from big-scale departmental mergers like that which created the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment or more commonly, internal restructurings such as Housing New Zealand which closed local offices, cutting 70 jobs in favour of directing inquiries through a new customer services call centre. But is restructuring worth it? What are the costs and is there a better way to bring about the transformation the Government is demanding? Writer ROSE NORTHCOTT spoke to a number of commentators to learn more.
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THE ACADEMIC Slavish devotion Academic Bill Ryan wants New Zealand’s public sector chiefs to get over their slavish devotion to restructuring. “Frankly it’s ridiculous because we know that restructuring can be damaging to an organisation, especially if there seems to be no clear overriding strategic purpose behind the restructure,” says Ryan, Assistant Professor at Victoria University’s School of Government. “Restructuring demolishes the existing framework of action. It leaves people feeling uncertain and demoralised. Even if the restructuring is handled reasonably well, productivity dips badly at the time. The short-term costs are dramatic and there doesn’t seem to be evidence to support the claim of restructuring as producing savings and efficiencies over the long term. The inefficiencies which existed prior to the restructuring are often just internalised within the restructured organisation.” The paradox, says Ryan, is that he can see a case for prudent mergers.
“The Government is finding our highly fragmented public sector ill-equipped to deal with complex issues which cross organisational boundaries and is finding coordination very difficult to achieve. There is also the issue of duplication of corporate services. “Comparatively, we have too many organisations and I think we need to carry on with some judicious mergers such as primary industries which makes a huge amount of sense, and while you wonder why a couple of bits of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment are there, it is underpinned by a ‘business-facing’ government strategy.”
Two public sectors What Ryan would really like is a discussion about a new way of organising the public sector. “Many writers are suggesting that the core organisational form of the 21st century will be the network, not bureaucracy. Managing in a bureaucratic context is essentially about command and control, whereas
good they are at it. I can’t put it any blunter than that!”
Do we have the talent?
But while he certainly sees a case for restructuring, Tanner cautions it has got to be done carefully and thoughtfully and not simply as a matter of political expediency. The purpose of the agency, its role, and the intellectual coherence between all of its activities has to be thought through. He can see potentially good rationale for the creation of a new department like the Ministry of Primary Industries amalgamating agriculture, forestry, fisheries and food but doesn’t see that applying in the same way in the MBIE. “A key task for the chief executive of this agency will be to create a vision and strategy for this ministry underpinned by an intellectual frame-
He sees the Better Public Services Advisory Group Report as providing a window of opportunity to form new networked ways of working, with things like policy hubs and the creation of networks around certain sets of results. It also emphasises the far more important but more difficult matters of changing organisational practices and cultures. “The big question,” Ryan says, is do we have enough talented people with the capability to deliver on better public services over the coming years? “The heads of the public service, chief executives and senior managers are about to be tested for how big their vision is, how well they understand their job, and how
FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE Correcting mistakes Ross Tanner has first-hand experience of restructuring working at senior levels of the state sector and more recently as a public sector management and governance consultant. The immediate past-president of IPANZ, Tanner has believed for a long time that New Zealand has too many government departments and Crown entities, which have not always worked collaboratively, and in some ways have acted against the best collective interests of government. “Another mistake we’ve made is that we’ve allowed small, single purpose government agencies to grow and build their own support systems when we should have been thinking of doing this on a much more system-wide basis with some form of shared services.”
Vision and strategy
work that will be understandable by both staff and the ministry’s various clients. This will, for example, need to integrate the building regulation and housing policy function in the same government agency as investment in science. “The new ministry will also have to resolve and manage a number of issues. The number of Cabinet ministers and associate ministers to whom it will report will pose a challenge for the chief executive and senior managers. “Secondly, there will be a risk where senior managers will simply run their functions as a fiefdom, a line function which doesn’t necessarily relate to other functions in the department. The CE and deputy CEs will need to spend a lot of time in oversight and supervision – that will become part, if not all, of the job.”
Restructuring done badly Restructuring doesn’t always save money and when done badly can cost money, says Tanner, who adds many public servants, himself included, have had experience of a restructure which was not well thought through and had to be done again. While Tanner argues New Zealand has got to think differently about the way government operates, restructurings are too often done from the top down whereas he now believes reorganisations are more effective when front-end staff and their managers are consulted and asked to identify ways to more effectively deliver services and reduce waste.
“This really empowers staff. You can come up with innovative ideas and approaches that may lead to closing down some offices and amalgamations, but in a way that makes better sense to those affected than if the approach is entirely driven from top down.”
COMMUNITY SECTOR Restructurings falling short The media recently reported community groups were so frustrated at being unable to get hold of Housing New Zealand following the closure of local offices in favour of a new customer call centre, one had resorted to driving families to the back door of a corporate office for help. The Salvation Army says Housing NZ is just one example of the incredibly high level of public sector restructuring and the government’s drive towards efficiency and cost cutting that is impacting on the community sector. Salvation Army Director of Social Policy, Major Campbell Roberts, says there is often a big difference between what government organisations announce as their global plan for >
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managing networks is about how to use influence when you don’t have control, learning how to take divergent interests and mobilise around common goals. “What we seem to have at the moment is two public sectors – one which reflects the formal mode of the 1980s and 1990s, and another that is almost flying underneath the radar and which has been adapting to the new challenges it’s been confronting from society. These pockets of innovation are being driven by some frontline staff and senior managers who are doing quite extraordinary things. This includes developing real, working networks and a networked future is absolutely essential to what they are doing. A very good illustration is the Water Land Forum, another is Whānau Ora. Networks break down boundaries that exist between government and the economy, and government and civil society.” Ryan says restructurings could inadvertently kill off some of the networks that are starting to emerge, which is why he considers top-down restructuring a mistake in ongoing public sector reform.
July 2012 Public Sector 7
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change and what is actually delivered at the grass roots. He says Housing NZ for example did need significant restructuring in order to become more focused on delivering houses efficiently in a way that meets the highest needs, but that hasn’t happened. Nor has the restructure been accompanied by a necessary increase in funding to the community sector, with about a $60 million annual shortfall for community housing, according to his estimates. “Housing NZ’s decision to have less contact with people and more contact with the end of the phone has made a huge difference to the amount of support we need to give clients. There’s also been a big upswing in the number of people being referred to us from Housing NZ.” Roberts is also concerned that Housing NZ is only measuring its performance as a good landlord in terms of its return on investment and collecting the rent on time. “We are also seeing a very high level of housing vacancy. I suspect they are doing that so they don’t have to take up some of the maintenance issues that would affect their bottom line.”
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New Zealand will pay Frequent changes in senior management through public sector restructuring are also destabilising, says Roberts, who thinks in general there is an undervaluing of the need for consistent and effective relationships with non-governmental organisations. “At the end of the day, if there isn’t effective restructuring and we don’t achieve successful partnerships, the costs to New Zealand will go up incredibly. If you get somebody whose housing is badly handled and ends up in five houses over a year, the family doesn’t establish proper education, healthcare and community links as they are so busy looking after basic food and security. We will pay for that down the track with extra healthcare, special education programmes, and individuals who don’t enter the workforce as strong contributing members of society.” Roberts argues restructuring of government services should always be delivered on evidence-based research which shows “this is a better way of doing it and will get better outcomes”. He says some departments do that better than others and it often has a lot to do with leadership at the chief executive level and a clearness of focus about outcomes. He fears public sector restructuring will take away policy and monitoring functions that are less visible than frontline jobs but which are critical in terms of delivering strong evidence-based policy. “Nobody will see them go and that’s a risk.”
PUBLIC SECTOR CHIEF EXECUTIVE One transformation tool Restructuring is just one tool for transformation chief executives have at their disposal, says Colin MacDonald. The new Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs, MacDonald has more than 30 years experience working on major transformations in the private and public sector in New Zealand and the United Kingdom and says it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. “When embarking on a programme of transformation, a chief executive has to think very carefully about the drivers, challenges and the strategies they want to deploy to get from where they are to where they need to get to. Only then should they think about restructuring,” says MacDonald. In mid-2008 MacDonald was appointed CE of Land Information New Zealand, arriving in the middle of a complex and expensive project to move from 20 per cent to 100 per cent electronic lodgment of land transactions. The success of that project saw it win the 2010 IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Award for Improving Public Value through Business Transformation. It absolutely met its goals, says MacDonald, reducing processing times and client fees and, with the closure of three processing offices and the rationalisation of jobs, achieved millions in cost savings for the department.
Benefits difficult to measure While the 100% electronic lodgment project had “stark” measures (reduced processing time and fees), he says one of the biggest challenges for many major restruc-
turings is measuring the benefits, which can often accrue months after the project is completed. “During that time the world moves on and it’s a challenge to say the benefits we are seeing today are as a direct result of what we did 18 months ago.” He says the LINZ lodgment project is a good example. Based on cost recovery, client fees initially came down, but with the onset of the Global Financial Crisis which nobody could have reasonably anticipated, lodgments reduced significantly and fees went up again (though not as much as they would have before 100% electronic lodgment).
Impact on people Another challenge is the impact on people even of minor restructurings, which MacDonald says is often underestimated. “I’ve learnt over the years that even when no one is going to lose their job, changing reporting lines, duties, and expectations can still be very unsettling for people. “There is also a loss of productivity as you go through the restructuring. The leadership and manager’s attention is diverted to the business of managing the change, as is appropriate, but while they are focused on that they can’t be focusing on other matters.” MacDonald says one of the risks of not having good measures in place is you can get diverted from your goals. A related risk is thinking you’ve achieved the transformation before you actually have. “You can focus on driving the change forward, and as it starts to come to fruition you might want to put your attention on to something else. The risk is that you do that too early and don’t consolidate the changes. “You’ve often got the tangible hard changes in place such as change reporting lines, but you
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haven’t done the soft stuff – ensuring the hearts and minds of the people in the organisation are behind what you are trying to do, that they understand it and have bought into it and everyone is going in the same direction. The soft stuff is really the hard stuff and in this space can make the biggest difference.”
THE UNION Requoting John Key The Public Service Association is fond of re-quoting John Key’s statement to its 2008 Congress: “Few problems are solved by significant reorganisations – in fact, many more tend to be created. It is easy to underestimate the amount of energy and inspiration soaked up by institutional change, as well as the loss of personal and institutional knowledge.” It’s a pity he didn’t follow his own advice, says PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott. She says the PSA has argued since the late 1980s that frag-
mentation of the public sector was the wrong thing to do and says it is understandable from time to time there will be restructuring to put departments back together that should never have been fragmented in the first place. “What we do take issue with is the amount of internal restructuring taking place because funds are shrinking, and the primary way chief executives and senior managers look to save money is to reduce the head count.”
Hidden costs Pilott says the real costs of restructuring are generally hidden. “There is little transparency and almost no evaluation after as to what the costs turn out to be and whether the outcomes sought from amalgamation or internal restructuring are achieved. The recently well-publicised case of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
Trade spending $9.3 million on a change process designed to save $25 million is probably the most glaring example of a bit of transparency around restructuring and most people were horrified that they were saving $3 for every $1 spent.” The only published example the PSA could find of an evaluation of a major change process was by the Auckland Transition Agency following the merger of the region’s eight councils into one, as part of their final report. >
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YOUR FIRST CHOICE FOR PUBLIC SECTOR PROFESSIONALS
July 2012 Public Sector 9
“One of the things we found was what we call the skills waste,” says Pilott. “Once the amalgamation was confirmed a lot of very employable people simply left for other jobs, while others were made redundant. You lose a great deal of institutional knowledge and all the money you spent on training people to do the jobs that you no longer want them to do. “There is also a loss of productivity as people focus on the change process and are diverted from their work and it’s hard to pick that up again as once the transition is completed new teams and relationships need to be formed.” Pilott says a recent report also talked about the loss of a whole cadre of people during the 1990s through downsizing and outsourc-
ing, the kind of people who would be public sector leaders today. And while that was specifically looking at policy capability, she believes it could be applied more widely.
What needs to happen She thinks the networked government talked about in the Better Public Services Advisory Group Report is a positive development with some real merit. “We think it would be helpful if the public sector started to think of itself as a whole entity and worked together in a way that is cooperative. Restructuring would be easier if people knew that if they weren’t going to have a job in one place, there would be a job in another area or department.” While it’s not perfect, she cites the “soft-change” approach
taken by the Ministry of Social Development over the past five years as worth looking at, where change has become pretty much the norm as the organisation continues to adapt and be responsive. “MSD has managed some cost savings through that approach. There have been job losses, but through attrition rather than the brutal way of making people redundant.” If there has to be restructuring, Pilott says it’s essential a re-evaluation of both the processes used for restructuring as well as the outcomes is undertaken, which she suggests could be led by the State Services Commission. The PSA also wants a move away from the top-down approach,
where senior managers often together with external consultants think about what they’d like to see happen, an approach which Pilott says the MFAT experience so clearly demonstrates doesn’t work. “If we said to the people involved in delivering the services, ‘we need to change the way we do things, give us your ideas’, we would get much better buy-in and much better outcomes.”
Better public services on restructuring The Better Public Services Advisory Group was formed by the Government to provide advice on state sector reform. Its November 2011 report is now informing the Government’s Better Public Services programme which is focused on delivering more for less.
EXECUTIVE WATCH Naomi Ferguson
MBIE’s Senior Leadership Team
Naomi Ferguson has been appointed to the position of Chief Executive and Commissioner of Inland Revenue. She takes up her role on 21 July 2012. Ferguson is currently Director, Business Customer and Strategy at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in the UK. Prior to this role, she led the compliance division of HMRC and was responsible for some 18,000 staff. She comes to the position with over 20 years of experience in public sector management, including serving as Deputy Commissioner, Service Delivery, at IRD from 2003 to 2006.
As of 1 July, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment came into existence. The ministry merges the functions of the Department of Building and Housing, the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Economic Development, and the Ministry of Science and Innovation. The acting senior leadership team includes: • David Smol, Acting Chief Executive (pictured right) • Murray Bain, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Science and Innovation • Nigel Bickle, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Building and Housing • Rebecca Boyack, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Corporate Services • Liz MacPherson, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Labour • Greg Patchell, Acting Deputy Chief Executive, Economic Development. A detailed organisational design and implementation plan for the new ministry will be developed by 30 September following consultation with staff.
Andrew Kibblewhite Andrew Kibblewhite has been appointed Chief Executive of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He took up the role on 25 June 2012. Prior to this appointment, Kibblewhite was Treasury Deputy Chief Executive and in 2011 led the Secretariat that supported the Better Public Services Advisory Group. He previously served as Director of the DPMC’s Policy Advisory Group. Kibblewhite began his career at the Treasury and in 2002 became General Manager Strategic Development at the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.
10 Public Sector July 2012
PJ (Peter) Brooks (1928–2012) By John R Martin Peter Brooks, who died in Wellington in May, had a diverse and wide-ranging public service career. He made a distinctive contribution in all the positions he held and will be remembered as a man of strong analytical capacity, erudition, integrity – and a sharp and well-directed wit. He arrived in New Zealand in 1953 after a period (1948– 1952) in the British Civil Service including spells in the Private Offices of Hugh Dalton and Harold MacMillan. Brooks was among a number of British migrants who came to New
Zealand in the early 1950s and made significant contributions in the public service. His early career was in the Government Stores Board and Industries and Commerce. Brooks also completed the Diploma of Public Administration. After serving as Private Secretary to the Hon J R Marshall, Deputy Prime Minister, Brooks began a period of 10 years in the Cabinet Office, first as Deputy Secretary and from 1968 as Cabinet Secretary. After a short period as the first Commissioner for the Environment, he was appointed Deputy Secretary of Internal
Affairs, a post he held until 1979 when he was seconded to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London as Director of Youth Programmes. On his return to New Zealand, he undertook special duties in the State Services Commission, particularly relating to the implementation of the Danks Report that led to the Official Information Act 1982. From 1983 he was Deputy General Manager of the Tourist and Publicity Department before being appointed as the first General Manager of the Parliamentary Service.
He retired in 1992 but his commitment to the community was far from ended. In particular he became a leader of the Wellington Civic Trust and the Waterfront Watch; his insightful judgment in the analysis of public policy questions, his administrative experience, and his advocacy skills were greatly valued by these organisations. Many were the tributes paid to Peter Brooks, an exemplary public servant in the broadest sense, at a memorial service at the Wharewaka on the Wellington waterfront. Our sincere sympathies are extended to his family.
Ocean governance – summary report
Published in April 2012, Ocean Governance: The New Zealand Dimension is a summary report from the Victoria University of Wellington’s Institute of Policy Studies Oceans Governance project. Written by visiting American marine policy expert Dr Mike McGinnis, the project’s primary goal is to provide interested members of the public and policymakers with a general overview and a description of the types of principles, planning tools, and policy instruments that can be used to strengthen and improve marine governance in New Zealand. A full report is to be published later in 2012. http://ips.ac.nz/ publications/ publications/ show/330
July 2012 Public Sector 11
Sharing our history – the 28th Māori Battalion website Interaction is the key to the success of the Māori Battalion website, says Dr Monty Soutar who together with Leanne Tamaki has been running the project that won the Te Puni Kōkiri Award for Crown–Māori Relationships in last year’s IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards. Writer JANE TOLERTON learns about a resource that takes the concept of ‘by the people, for the people’ to an exciting new level.
outar says the thing everyone comments on is the interaction the public is having with the website. “People are helping build the website by the information and photographs they are sending us. “If you read the emails that come in and are put up on each soldier’s individual page, you are privy to conversations between family members who are learning about what their fathers, grandfathers, and other relatives did during the war. It’s quite moving to read some of the material.” But interactions between government agencies are also key to the success of the website, which has been developed on behalf of the 28th Māori Battalion Association by the Manatū Taonga/Ministry for Culture and Heritage in partnership with Te 12 Public Sector July 2012
Puni Kōkiri – under a memorandum of understanding that involves the Ministry of Education and the National Library. Archives New Zealand is providing scanned copies of the 60 unit diaries, which are a record of daily activities in the battalion. “That’s a huge job because the diaries are bound into volumes that are time consuming to scan, but Archives New Zealand has chosen to do it because they feel by having the information on the site it makes it more accessible to the public,” says Soutar. “Most agencies have been willing to help in some way because they see the benefit. Radio New Zealand Sound Archives, for example, is digitising wartime recordings of soldiers which we are making available on the site. “The NZ Defence Force also hold important resources, because in order to be really accurate with the soldiers’ records you have to go back to their service records.” Meanwhile, working from home in Gisborne, Soutar is constantly adding new information to the website, which aims to record, remember, and maintain knowledge of the contribution of the 28th Māori Battalion, and includes interactive maps, photographs, audio files, and videos. Content officer Leanne Tamaki works on it at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage in Wellington.
“We average 5000 to 6000 individual visitors a month, but reached almost 11,000 in April this year, no doubt due to Anzac Day,” says Soutar. “Websites like Te Ara and NZ History (both from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage) have much larger use, but people do remark that for a specialised website focusing on one unit our hit rate is pretty amazing. “A recent survey found that most users are whānau, but there are peak periods when students use it, with a big spike around August for the Ngarimu VC Essay Competition which is held annually.” Soutar, a former soldier, wrote part of his PhD thesis on the 28th Battalion’s C Company – from
the East Coast region. He was the principal author of Nga Tama Toa, subtitled ‘the price of citizenship’, a quote from Sir Apirana Ngata, who wanted to see someone from his own area write the history of the company. “If I had had access to information like this from family members, the book would have been richer,” says Soutar. “The other thing is that when you are putting a book together so much gets culled whereas a website allows you to put in all the offcuts. If you go to one of the diary pages – April 1941 for example, when the Māori Battalion was involved in its first engagement with the enemy at Mt Olympus in Greece – you can read the monthly diary
Dr Monty Soutar and Leanne Tamaki review reinforcement photos for the website. Photo: Andy Palmer, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
for that period, and we were able to hyperlink through to reports the officers wrote, soldiers’ letters home, and veteran interviews from 60 years later. You can’t do that with a book.” The website also features a realtime element – 70 years ago this month – again using the war unit diaries. Last year a publicity drive was launched titled ‘A photo for every man’ in an effort to have at least one photo of all 3600 battalion members, 649 of whom did not survive the war, on the website. “We have used the media campaign to encourage people to have a look at the site, and if their relative doesn’t have a photo, to provide it. When we were doing the C Company research we had to go around to peoples’ places with a still camera because the photos were considered treasures and people wouldn’t let them out of their possession. Now they get children and grandchildren to scan them and email them to us. At last count we had photos for 1300 men. It’s so exciting to log on in the morning and find that someone’s sent in a photograph overnight,” says Soutar. The website is being completely
translated into Māori – something most users said they would like to see when surveyed. “I think it’s exciting because it will be one of the only government websites fully in Māori. Our argument for doing it was in line with the government’s Māori Language Strategy. It makes the website a much richer resource for Māori language users and schools at all levels. “We are finding experts in the language from the various tribal regions and engaging them to translate different parts of the website. So in the end, if I was a Ngāpuhi student I should be able to find materials translated into our dialect somewhere on the site. “When people see the names of the translators it enhances the reputation of the website. Many have volunteered to do it, but we are recognising their expertise through funding. Despite being busy a lot of the translators are saying yes because of the subject matter. They all had relatives in the Māori Battalion.” The website continues to grow in exciting ways even the creators couldn’t have expected. As the judges of the IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards noted,
the website is assisting in “preserving the taonga for all New Zealand”. www.28maoribattalion.org.nz and www.teopetaua28.maori.nz
The 28th Māori Battalion Website Project – Ministry for Culture and Heritage – won the Excellence in Crown-Māori Relationships sponsored by Te Puni Kōkiri in 2011. Left to right: Pauline Kingi, Regional Director Tamaki Makau Rau, Te Puni Kōkiri; Harima Fraser, Secretariat, 28th Māori Battalion Association; Dr Bronwyn Dalley, Heritage Services Branch Manager, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
About the sponsor Te Puni Kōkiri, the Ministry of Māori Development, is the Crown’s principal adviser on Crown–Māori relationships. They also guide Māori public policy by advising Government on policy affecting Māori well-being and development. Each Crown–Māori relationship is unique, and should recognise the complexity and diversity of the parties to the relationship. Te Puni Kōkiri means a group moving forward together. As the name implies, Te Puni Kōkiri seek to harness the collective talents of Māori to produce a stronger New Zealand.
July 2012 Public Sector 13
© Feng Yu | Dreamstime.com
2012 – planning for the future Public Sector asked Finance Minister Bill English and Labour Finance Spokesperson David Parker to comment on their respective party’s medium- to long-term budget strategy. Following are their responses.
Competitive economy at heart of Budget by Finance Minister Bill English
udget 2012 takes the next steps in the Government’s plan to build an innovative and productive economy that sells more to the world, supports more jobs, and delivers better public services. It invests significantly in health, education, science and innovation, and welfare, while bringing down long-term costs of public services and delivering better results for New Zealanders. And the Budget continues the Government’s focus on addressing the imbalances built up in the economy during the 2000s – which is particularly important given the uncertainties we’re seeing in Europe. It does those things while keeping the Government on track to surplus in 2014/15. Good fiscal management is important because it helps us pursue the Government’s other economic priorities.
• Rebuilding Christchurch. The Budget shows the Government remains on track to surplus, with $4.4 billion of new operating spending over the next four years matched by a combination of savings and revenue initiatives. Budget forecasts show Budget decisions will keep net core Crown debt below 30 per cent of gross domestic product. They also show economic growth picking up to 2 to 3 per cent by 2014 and 2015. The Treasury expects a further 154,000 New Zealanders to gain work over the next four years, on top of the 60,000 increase in employment over the past two years.
The Government’s main priorities
Building a more productive and competitive economy
During the next three years, the Government’s main priorities are: • Responsibly managing the Government’s finances. • Building a more productive and competitive economy. • Delivering better public services within tight financial constraints.
Budget 2012 invests heavily in infrastructure, innovation, and skills – ingredients in creating a more productive and competitive economy that supports more jobs and higher incomes. New jobs are created and incomes grow when businesses have the confidence to invest, to take risks to employ more people, and to pay higher wages. The Budget supports those
14 Public Sector July 2012
businesses with more investment in innovation and science. The Government’s annual spending on science and innovation will increase by $385 million over the next four years, taking total science and innovation spending across government to more than $1.3 billion by 2015/16. Budget 2012 further invests in improving transitions for young New Zealanders from school into work or training, by providing an additional 3000 free Youth Guarantee places at a cost of $37.7 million over four years. The Government is establishing the new Future Investment Fund to invest the expected $5 billion to $7 billion proceeds from selling minority shares in four state-owned enterprises and Air New Zealand, into modern schools and hospitals, innovation, and transport.
Delivering better public services within tight financial constraints The Government is working to create a more innovative and efficient public sector to deliver better results to meet the modern demands of New Zealanders. Meeting these challenges will require a public service willing to learn and change quickly. The Prime Minister has set 10 challenging results for the public service to achieve over the next three to five years. They include difficult issues like reducing crime, reducing long-term welfare dependency, and reducing educational under-achievement. At the same time, they will
require a sharp focus on costs. In addition to the previously announced target of having 85 per cent of 18-year-olds achieving NCEA Level 2 or equivalent qualification in five years, the Budget confirmed two more measurable targets for the next three to five years: • Reducing prisoner reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017. Reaching this target would mean 18,500 fewer victims of crime every year. • Increasing the rate of participation in early childhood education to 98 per cent by 2016 from 94.7 per cent currently. The Government is also embarking on an ambitious welfare reform programme, which focuses on supporting New Zealanders into work. For the first phase, Budget 2012 invests $287.5 million on education and training. This includes $148.8 million over four years for youth services, including wrap-around support. Despite tight financial constraints, investing in better frontline health and education services remains a priority for the Government.
Rebuilding Christchurch Budget 2012 continues the Government’s commitment to rebuilding Christchurch. The total cost of the damage is estimated at more than $20 billion, so it is without doubt the largest – and most complex – economic project we’ve seen in this country. We set aside $5.5 billion in Budget 2011 for the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Fund and we established the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. More than $3.46 billion of the Recovery Fund will have been spent by June 2013 and the rest will be spent by 2015/16.” The Government is developing a blueprint for central Christchurch to take forward the draft central city plan. It has also assisted with supplying land for housing by using special earthquake recovery powers to allow re-zoning of residential subdivisions. Overall, Budget 2012 delivers on policies we clearly set out during the 2011 Election – the next steps in our programme are for a more productive and competitive economy, more jobs, and higher incomes.
Modernising the economy by Labour Finance Spokesperson David Parker
here are three reasons we urgently need to modernise our economy: • We don’t earn enough from the world. • We haven’t been growing fast enough. • We owe too much. The National Government believes they’ll have done their job if the Government’s books return to surplus in 2014/15. Returning to surplus is a good goal. In fact Labour would aim to return to surplus at the same time. But I wouldn’t make the fiscal surplus the only measure of whether we’re doing well. There is not much achieved if we get the Government’s books in order but growth remains mediocre, income levels so inadequate that we continue to lose young New Zealanders overseas, and our international liabilities deteriorate even more gruesomely. We can’t just blame the global meltdown and earthquakes for the job queues we’re seeing, like the 1500 people who lined up for 150 new jobs at a supermarket, or for lackluster gross domestic product growth. We are falling behind most countries outside of Europe, and the rebuild of Canterbury is now a source of economic growth. The last time we earned more overseas in a year than we spent was 1973. Our net international liabilities are among the highest in the developed world. The Treasury, Reserve Bank, ANZ and BNZ all forecast our net international liabilities will keep getting worse every year. We simply have to modernise the New Zealand economy: Export more, save more, innovate more, deal with the issues of the future. Tinkering around the edges is not going to create a modern economy. I’m not talking about ‘tax and spend’, or ‘cutting the pie differently’. Labour’s focus will be on growth. Our definition of success is growth in jobs, growth in the breadth of exports, growth in gross national product per capita.
We can’t keep putting off tough decisions. Three years from now we will spend more on Super than on pre-school, primary, secondary and tertiary education combined. If we don’t increase the age for NZ Superannuation, then a future government will inevitably cut the level of Super. That’s not fair to people who have already retired. We need to boost our savings as well. Australians save 9 per cent of their income, and soon that will be 12 per cent. They use those deep pools of capital to come over here and buy up our companies, so that our economy is helping pay for Australians to have a better retirement. A modern savings scheme is essential to give New Zealanders more security and a better standard of living in retirement and to provide New Zealand capital for growing businesses. More savings go hand in hand with progrowth tax reform. One fundamental lesson I learned in business is that it has long been easier to make money in New Zealand from property, retail or local services than from exporting. Speculation in unproductive assets is untaxed, while income from productive investment is fully liable. That’s the wrong way around. We should be treating all forms of income the same way and helping companies that invest in research and development. If we can save more, reform the tax base to strengthen growth, and ease pressures from our ageing population, the government will have more room to help families. But we need to be thrifty until we are back in surplus, and Labour will only pay for new spending or tax cuts out of existing budget provisions, new revenue, or by re-prioritising. One reason why I left my business career to enter Parliament is that it’s always been Labour that has made really big changes to New Zealand’s economy. Conservative parties are instinctively content with the way things are, but Labour imagines a better future. If we don’t change we won’t get different results. But if New Zealand doesn’t do better we are not going to create a future capable of keeping here the thousand people a week who today are leaving for more jobs and better opportunities in Australia. July 2012 Public Sector 15
In March this year, as one of his last acts as Minister of Local Government, Nick Smith launched a broad swathe of reform for the local government sector. Among the drivers for change he cited were rapidly rising rates, unacceptable council debt levels, and an overly broad mandate that allowed councils to neglect their knitting.
talked to some people who have a deep interest in what unfolds, and found that, while all support change that will improve the sector, they’re not convinced the Government has got it right.
16 Public Sector July 2012
he graphs in the Better Local Government booklet are quite compelling. Published in March 2012 by the Department of Internal Affairs, they show that the 2002 Local Government Act coincided with a surge in the cost of household rates – jumping from an average annual increase of 3.9 per cent over the 10 years up to 2002, to an annual average increase of 6.8 per cent since then. That is more than double the rate of inflation, an extra $500 a year for an average household, or $1 billion a year for the national economy. Further, since the 2002 Act, Better Local Government says the sector has been swallowing a bigger share of New Zealand’s gross domestic product – rising from a relatively constant 3 per cent to hit 4 per cent in 2011. Still further, local government’s direct salary costs have
nearly doubled since 2002, to $1608 million in 2010, and, over the past three years, have increased at nearly double the rate of the core state sector. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, Better Local Government says that the sector’s debt has mushroomed, quadrupling over the past decade from $2 billion to $8 billion. While households and businesses have been prudent in the face of global economic strife, it says local government has been busy writing cheques. Council borrowing increased from $900 million in 2008, to $1100 million in 2009, to $1800 million in 2010, a trend it says is likely to continue. Armed with this information, in March, a week before he resigned all his portfolios, the then Minister of Local Government, Nick Smith, launched an eightpronged package of reform. The
© Stuart Corlett | Dreamstime.com
Local government reform – a swing and a miss?
first tranche of four reforms was introduced to the House by the current Minister, David Carter, on 12 June. His Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill wants to: • Refocus local government’s purpose away from the ‘four well-beings’ – social, economic, environmental and cultural – and towards the more prosaic: ‘providing good quality local infrastructure, public services, and regulatory functions at the least possible cost to households and businesses’. • Regulate for fiscal responsibility in local government’s income, expenditure and debt levels, in consultation with Local Government New Zealand. • Strengthen council governance by giving mayors more power, allowing councils to set policy on staffing and pay, and introducing a hierarchy of
central government interventions should things go not to its liking. • Streamline councils’ ability to reorganise themselves, including moving their boundaries and amalgamating. The second cluster of reforms will be inside a second bill, proposed for 2013. These deal with increasing local government’s efficiency, developing a framework to clarify local and central government’s different regulatory roles, investigating how efficiently local government provides infrastructure, and reviewing councils’ use of development contributions. Lawrence Yule, President of LGNZ and Hastings District Mayor.
President of LGNZ and Hastings District Mayor, Lawrence Yule, says there’s a lot in the Government’s total package to support – increasing efficiency and clarifying roles are good targets. “That’s where the real value is and Local Government New Zealand has been asking for a long time for that work to be done.” Which means, in his view, the bill now before the House has put the wrong things first: Yule says the real value lies in the last four proposals because they look at who does what, how to improve efficiency, and how to provide infrastructure effectively and efficiently. For example, the suggestion to investigate how efficiently local government provides infrastructure is a really good piece of work.
“If they had looked at the whole efficiency thing first, then what they’re seeking to address [through the current bill] would have been clearer and easier to understand.” He says the findings of the independent eight-member local government efficiency taskforce, announced on 7 June, may well point to a different form of local government in the future than currently exists: “…but shouldn’t that be looked at first before you start changing things now?” The taskforce is due to report to the minister in October. Similarly, Yule says, developing a framework to determine the respective regulatory roles for central and local government would help determine what is appropriate at each level. Take legislation about sea-level rise: “This probably should be done nationally because there is no point 73 different councils having a different view on the amount of sea-level rise that’s going to occur.” LGNZ was not consulted by former Minister Smith on the reforms, or their order, Yule says. “We had some preliminary conversations just after Christmas, but we never saw what was in the document until it was announced.” Since then, LGNZ has had some conversations with Minister Carter, but only about the proposed intervention framework. He suspects that demand from some councils for structural change has influenced the order of the Government’s roll out of reform. The bill gives a lot more power to the Local Government Commission to decide on the structure of local government
in a region. While changes can still be the subject of a poll, under the new regime a proposal would succeed with majority support over the whole area of the new council, rather than the current requirement of a majority in every affected district or city. The Government’s view is that structural change has been nighon impossible under the existing legislation. “They’ve all been voted down, as recently as the Nelson-Tasman one.” The only amalgamation since 2002 was in 2005, when the Banks Peninsula Council used a clause in the law to disband itself, forcing a reluctant Christchurch City to take it on. Massey University Associate Professor, resource and environmental planning, Christine Cheyne agrees with Yule that discussion about amalgamations is premature. Not only is it premature, in her view it is also anti-democratic as people in smaller districts could simply be out-voted. Cheyne says the Government should have initiated a principles-based review of what local government’s role and powers should be, which would help determine what
Christine Cheyne, Massey University Associate Professor, resource and environmental planning.
size a unit of local government should be. “For example, we might decide that, yes, unitary councils are a good thing and that they do need to be a certain size … and then we also need to decide what is also necessary for local democracy, because, with large units of local government, if you have a smaller number of elected representatives … then you need to have another tier of representation. Local boards, such as in Auckland, would be a minimum and far from an ideal approach.” In the meantime, she says there are better options to achieve efficiencies than amalgamations, such as developing and broadening the shared services approach already under way, including the strategic alliances between councils in the upper North Island and South Island. >
“...I certainly think there is a strong case for having local government to deliver a lot of services that could be performed by central government … because local government is far more knowledgeable about local diversity, local variations, local needs; it’s closer to people and … far better at consulting ...” Christine Cheyne July 2012 Public Sector 17
The beat up over debt While supporting the Government’s desire for more efficiency and clearer roles, Yule is underwhelmed by its focus on debt and spending in selling the reforms. “It is a beat up.” While debt is rising, most is going into core infrastructure: “…roads, water, wastewater, all sorts of things that have to be funded over the long term”. The servicing cost of that debt is, on average, about 6 per cent of the total rate take, which is best practice. “It should be under 10 per cent worldwide, so it’s still within a good place.”
The debt beat up reflects an issue he says LGNZ constantly struggles with – that few people recognise the very good value for money local government actually delivers. “I think the average rate in New Zealand is about $1800 per household, and for that you get everything: water, roads, rubbish, toilets flushing, libraries, parks; everything you can name that your council provides. Most people’s power bills are now more than their rates demand, just for electricity.” Porirua City Council Mayor, Nick Leggett, agrees that it’s been
a beat up. While Better Local Government suggests that, left to themselves, councils would continue their rates increases unchecked, its view is based on 2009 council spending plans and doesn’t take into account that local government has responded to the current economic context, just like households and businesses. Porirua City Council has set a funding envelope that recognises the global recession. “We’ve known we need to be more conservative, we’ve accepted that our spending is quite steep and … with the economic climate as it is, we need to more cautiously define those things we’re going to spend money on.” At the same time his council is increasing investment. “The key difference is spending versus investment … we’re doubling our spending on wastewater, on sewer infrastructure, on stormwater, and we are increasing our investment in our city centre revitalisation to support economic regeneration. But we’re reducing our spending across all the day-to-day operational stuff across the council, across every budget, because we recognise that we’ve got to pull back.” Both mayors note that, while lambasting local government debt largely accrued for ‘bricks and mortar’, the Government is itself busy borrowing somewhere between $250 and $300 million a week to service its operating costs.
A timely catalyst for change
Marine oil spill exercise in Napier Harbour. Photo: Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. 18 Public Sector July 2012
South Wairarapa District Mayor, Adrienne Staples, also rejects the view that local government can’t manage itself properly, but she believes Better Local Government does offer an opportunity to take stock. “Local government as we know it has been around since 1989, and certainly no commercial entity would be sitting around doing exactly the same things
it did 20-odd years ago. You have to keep pace with modern requirements.” As the mayor of a small council, one of three in the Wairarapa, she is working with her mayoral neighbours to canvass the best local government option for the area; a report outlining future options was released for public discussion in May. “I guess what we’re doing is taking a deep breath and saying: ‘Well change is inevitable, let’s make sure we have a say in what it’s going to look like’.” Staples says the Government’s proposed changes have been a useful catalyst, as questions about the most effective way to serve Wairarapa’s 40,000 people have been asked since she became mayor eight years ago and locals have become impatient for some action. She’s wary, however, about the implications of the proposed changes to how councils reorganise their boundaries. While Wairarapa councils are looking within their own rohe (territory), over the hill the Greater Wellington Regional Council and Porirua City Council have convened a panel chaired by former Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, to investigate change options for the whole Wellington region, including her patch. “There’s some within our community that like the Wellington Regional Council model but mostly what I hear is that ‘We do not want to be ruled by Wellington’. “We are essentially rural communities over here and, while obviously everybody wants to be healthy, wealthy and wise, our main economic drivers are different; our main threats, like flooding and road closures, they’re different to metropolitan life and so the expectations are different to metropolitan Wellington.” Trying to marry the two would be difficult, she says.
In her view, a Wellington ‘super city’, along the lines of Auckland, would compromise the strength of the Wairarapa voice at the table of democracy – already there is just one Wairarapa councillor on Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Strengthening the mayoral chain Staples does see merit in the move to increase some council powers, including the mayor’s, a view largely shared by the others. For Nick Leggett, the move to increase the ability of the council to influence employment and remuneration policies is particularly positive. “At the moment, the way things are structured, councils employ one person, the chief executive. That won’t change, but 30 per cent of our council’s budget is in salaries and we’re told we have absolutely no right to talk about that, to even think about it, so elected members are powerless.” Electors think mayors have a great deal more executive power than they do, he says. “We’ve got what is known as a ‘weak mayor system’ in New Zealand and it’s fine, but I don’t think it meets community expectations. If communities knew how little influence and how little resource mayors have to do their job I think they’d actually be shocked.”
What lies beneath Looking beyond the detail in the bill, Christine Cheyne’s view is that the reforms are being driven by a deeper ideological viewpoint than the Government’s ‘smokescreen of debt and austerity’. Ironically, she says, the ‘fiscal responsibility’ the Government wants to require of councils, limiting their borrowing and expenditure growth to no faster than inflation and population growth, has been demonstrated to produce deferred maintenance and a backlog of infrastructure spending.
Traditionally, she says, conservative governments have tended not to favour strong local government, preferring it to focus on basic roles around services to property. “They would like it to be very much there as a weak kind of partner in a very limited role.” However, she says, this ignores local government’s role in New Zealand’s democracy, as a check on the power of central government. While there are some issues in a few councils, the debt concerns are relatively minor and the Government already has the tools it needs to intervene, including auditor-general and ombudsman’s investigations, and the ability to install commissioners. In her view, Better Local Government is an overreaction to some under performance. The push to centralise power concerns Nick Leggett. The key, he says, is the ‘local’ in ‘local government’. If the Government was smart, it would engage local government more as a partner. “We are connected to communities in ways central government can only dream of. … Instead of being seen as something to control, we need to be seen as a partner so we can help deliver central government services.” Accountability is not an issue, he says. “If people don’t like what we do they can vote us out, just like central government.” Too often, he says, local government gets unfunded mandates from central government, which undermines its ability to sustainably implement central policies. “We should be the facilitator between central government and communities, not the funder; that’s where our role is.” Leggett bridles at the suggestion that the four ‘well-beings’ mean local government meddles beyond its mandate, citing recent criticism that Auckland Council is out of line talking about NCEA levels. “Of course a council representing
one-and-a-half million people is going to have an interest in social outcomes and education outcomes, and so they should. How dare the Government say we should not have that interest.” Which is not to suggest councils don’t stick to their knitting, he says. “I mean, 95 per cent of Porirua residents believe that sewer and water are the most important functions, and that’s where we will spend money, and where we do spend money and where we will spend more money, and that’s where our increased investment is. So what’s the argument?” Cheyne says there is a tension between the Government’s desire to curb the range of activities councils are involved in and the devolution that is embedded in New Zealand’s resource management legislation. “Local authorities are engaged in a lot of things that central government requires them to do, even things like administering the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, which has been hugely costly for local government.” As a member of the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry Panel, she faced the dilemma that local government’s costs were very much the result of responsibilities being passed on by central government: “...but there’s often good reasons for things to be delivered at the sub-national level. We have a very diverse community and very diverse environment in New Zealand. I certainly think there is a
strong case for having local government to deliver a lot of services that could be performed by central government because local government is far more knowledgeable about local diversity, local variations, local needs; it’s closer to people and far better at consulting and engaging communities than central government is.”
So what will the changes bring? Lawrence Yule’s view is that the actual changes likely to arise if the bill passes are not clear. “The question initially, when [Better Local Government] came out, was, ‘Well what does that mean we can and can’t do?’, and I’ve yet to have identified to me by any Government minister what can’t be done if the community want it.” Nick Leggett agrees. “We’re told, ‘Oh, you can do whatever you like as long as you can prove a local good’. In reality not much will actually change because if we said [to our communities], ‘Oh, okay, look the Government’s narrowed our focus, so we’re going to close the library and the swimming pool because we’re just limited to infrastructure now’, what do you think the community would say?” The bill is now before the Local Government and Environment Select Committee, which is due to report back to the House in midOctober. Submissions are due by 26 July.
Local government efficiency taskforce appointed
Local Government Minister David Carter has announced an independent taskforce to help build greater efficiency within the local government framework. The eight-member taskforce is one of the initiatives outlined in the Better Local Government reform programme announced earlier this year. The taskforce will report to the minister at the end of October.
July 2012 Public Sector 19
The stars shone brightly on 27 June at the TSB Arena in Wellington as the winners of the 2012 IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards were announced.
C Our shining lights
Winners of the IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards announced
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hris Quin, Acting CEO of Telecom New Zealand, parent company of awards sponsor, Gen-i, said that the event has become an important way of recognising highcalibre work in the public sector. “This year we had nearly as many finalists – 29 – as we had entries in our first year. And behind all of those finalists are individuals and teams who have gone beyond what is expected of them – they may have needed to be courageous or even a little rebellious to bring about real change. “As good coaches know, winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. I commend all the winners tonight, but I also commend the finalists and other entrants. Together you are creating a public service that benefits all New Zealanders.” State Services Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman presented the Prime Minister’s Award for Public Sector Excellence to Resolving Historic Claims of Child Abuse which is a joint Ministry of Social Development, Department of Internal Affairs, and Ministry of Education project. The project also won the Excellence Award for Working Together for Better Services. The project focused on finding a way to resolve claims outside the formal litigation process, and supports the work of the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service which was established to listen to people who had claims of child abuse and neglect while in the care of the state, connect them to the support they need, and refer them to MSD and MoE for further action where appropriate. More than 1000 people have registered with CLAS which has provided a way to get the support they need; all historic child welfare claims have been resolved without the need to go to court, saving millions of dollars. Judge Carolyn Henwood who is Chair of the CLAS panel, said, “Dignity and respect have been the tenets of this project. We have provided a forum for people to air their grievances and to hopefully find some greater wellbeing. We do not have a lot of money, but we do have time, and we do have courtesy.
We have found how important just the act of listening is and for many people they are able to move on with their lives in a way that wasn’t possible before.” Jan Breakwell, Chief Legal Advisor, Ministry of Education added, “In many ways this project represents the best of the public service. It’s a project that is based on righting wrongs and finding solutions to an intractable problem.” One of the special awards given on the evening was the State Services Commission Award for Excellence in Responding to the Canterbury Earthquakes. The award went to the New Zealand Police’s Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Cultural Response Team, which also earned the Office of Ethnic Affairs Award for Excellence in Ethnic Diversity. Immediately following the devastating Canterbury earthquake in 2011, the Police set up a Cultural Response Team to provide support to people from a wide range of ethnicities. As the tragedy unfolded, the Police were able to work with more than 400 family members from 20 different nationalities. General Manager Māori, Ethnic and Pacific Services Superintendent Wallace Haumaha said that the Police were honoured to receive such acknowledgment from their peers. “We worked quietly alongside our fellow public servants to provide support and assistance to the people affected by the earthquake. I can speak for the whole team, when I say that we feel privileged that we were able to serve people in ways that were both meaningful and culturally appropriate.” National Strategic Ethnic Advisor Inspector Rakesh Naidoo said, “Good systems and structures are crucial to the success of a project like this, but there is also the human element. Our team needed to work with each individual to determine the best way to assist them. For some that meant providing information about loved ones, for others it meant finding a safe place for them to stay or connecting them with their communities in their time of grief, but for all it meant ensuring we removed language and cultural barriers so that we were able to provide the specific support they needed.” Held jointly by IPANZ and Gen-i, the annual awards recognise and reward outstanding performances and achievements in the New Zealand public sector. Additional support provided by event sponsor PwC, category sponsors, and design sponsor Scenario Communications.
2012 award winners
New Professional of the Year – School of Government, Victoria University of Wellington Geoff Cooper – Auckland Council Crown–Māori Relationships (joint winners) – Te Puni Kōkiri Award Te Upoko Taiao – a partnership for resource management in the Wellington Region – Greater Wellington Regional Council Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Wardens – New Zealand Police Networked Government – Microsoft Award Earthquake Employment Support – Ministry of Social Development
Improving Performance through Leadership Excellence – State Services Commission and the Leadership Development Centre AwardLeading from where you stand – Statistics New Zealand Improving Public Value through Business Transformation – The Treasury Award Blood is a Gift – Auckland District Health Board Public Sector Communications – Talent2 Award Smokefree Prisons – Department of Corrections
Recognising Ethnic Diversity – Office of Ethnic Affairs Award Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Cultural Response Team – New Zealand Police Working Together for Better Services – The SOLGM Award Resolving Historic Claims of Child Abuse and Neglect – Ministry of Social Development, Department of Internal Affairs, and Ministry of Education Excellence in Responding to the Canterbury Earthquakes – State Services Commission Award Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Cultural Response Team – New Zealand Police
The best initiatives from the public sector in 2012 demonstrate innovation, vision, and tangible results that benefit New Zealanders. Community members and members of the New Zealand Police’s Māori, Pacific and Ethnic Services Cultural Response Team receiving the Award for Excellence in Ethnic Diversity from Mervin Singham, Director, Office of Ethnic Affairs.
State Services Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman (centre) with members of the team behind Resolving Historic Claims of Child Abuse. The project earned the Prime Minister’s Award for Public Sector Excellence. July 2012 Public Sector 21
In the cards Work and Income’s payment card has proven to be “plastic fantastic” for Ministry of Social Development staff, clients, and merchants. Editor SHELLY BISWELL learns about an innovation that continues to pay dividends.
Value for money While improving the payment system for Work and Income clients was important to MSD,
there was an even greater driving force for moving to a new payment system: reducing administration costs. As part of a Process Improvement Review in 2008, MSD investigated ways to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of its service delivery. During the review it became clear the hardship assistance programme was an area where significant savings and improved service delivery could be made. Fisk says, “We saw freeing up frontline staff time as an important efficiency. We wanted staff to be able to focus on helping our clients find employment instead of spending so much time administering the payment programme.” Led by Work and Income and with members from across MSD, a Hardship Assistance – Payment Card project team was established. Before the payment card system was introduced, nearly 25 per cent of each Work and Income case workers’ time was spent administering the system. To get a sense of the volume of work the payment system requires, that year over
one million payments totalling $253 million were granted. Anurag Madan, MSD’s Manager IT Applications Group, says, “One of the main goals for the first phase of the programme was to shave five minutes off of each administrative transaction for food payments which represent about half of our total hardship assistance transactions. While it doesn’t sound like a lot of time for each transaction, it does add up. In fact, when we ran the numbers we found it’s an annual savings of four million minutes – or 9095 days – of staff time.” Madan says the programme has also proved to be a much more accurate payment method with more checks and balances, so that “only funds actually spent by the client are paid to suppliers”. In the past suppliers needed to return unspent funds to Work and Income which was an administration cost for the retailers. Now that exact amounts go out, the Crown retains unspent funds until they’re needed – which in 2010 alone totalled over $2 million. Because the system is much more streamlined and automated the potential for fraud and misuse of the assistance programme has also been reduced.
© Mashe | Dreamstime.com
ow did you pay for your groceries last weekend? Chances are you swiped your EFTPOS card, punched in your pin, and let the banks do the rest. The idea of using a cheque for such a common transaction probably never occurred to you. If it had, the actual act might have earned the eye rolls of shoppers in the queue behind you as cheques usually require additional approvals. Until the hardship assistance payment card programme was introduced in 2009, many of Work and Income’s clients knew the eye rolls well. Taking the programme’s hologram documents into a
grocery store was often less than an ideal experience. “Certainly one of the benefits of the payment card system is reducing the inconvenience and the stigma of the hologram document form of payment for our clients,” says Barry Fisk, MSD’s Manager of Enterprise Planning. “The payment card also allows our clients to have more control over how and where they spend their money. For example, under the old system clients would need to spend all of their money in one shop – whether that’s where the best food prices were or not. Now clients can literally shop around for the best deals to make their assistance dollars go further.” If a client doesn’t spend all the money on the payment card, the remaining balance goes back on their entitlement automatically.
22 Public Sector July 2012
Involved and engaged
The right solution
Barry Fisk says to ensure success, frontline staff need to be involved from the very beginning of a project like the payment card programme. “Frontline staff’s input is vital when looking at how to best deliver our products and services. These are the people who will actively be administering the service on a day-to-day basis. The service needs to work for them if it’s going to be successful.” MSD also consulted and worked with the banking industry and retailer groups, as well as ministers and senior officials from across government departments to develop a robust payment system.
Phase one of the programme received the Treasury Award for Improving Public Value through Business Transformation at the 2011 IPANZ Gen-i Public Sector Excellence Awards. Since putting in their submission for the awards, Work and Income has expanded the payment card system. “While food was the biggest single type of payment, we found that the system worked so well that we were able to roll it out across our entire hardship assistance programme,” says Fisk. The programme proved invaluable after the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 with Christchurch Work and Income staff being able to issue hardship assistance payments quickly and efficiently.
Liz Jones, Associate Deputy Chief Executive Work and Income, MSD, accepts the Treasury Award for Excellence in Improving Public Value through Business Transformation in 2011.
Focused on outcomes
Hardship Assistance–Payment Card project team member Adrienne Walker, IT Applications Manager, says that the team followed a project management methodology that included a project management plan; change control process; risk and issues register; and plans for risk management, communications, and training. The team also adopted an agile delivery approach that included: • overlapping iterations, which meant that while analysis was being done on iteration 3, build out was occurring on iteration 2, and testing was being done on iteration 1 • a change-friendly approach where change requests were seen as potential opportunities rather than threats • the use of Earned Value Analysis for closely tracking the cost and schedule performance of the project • moving business and IT members of the project team together as much as possible. Walker says, “Big projects like this require a clearly articulated vision and structure, but there also needs to be a real sense of ‘we’re in this together’ and a flexibility to find solutions. Using the agile delivery approach ensured our team stayed focused on delivery and outcomes.”
The Treasury Award for Excellence in Improving Public Value through Business Transformation recognises the significant fiscal challenges that the Government faces and seeks to acknowledge some of the people who have responded to the call for “smarter, better public services for less”. The best of these organisations or individual projects will have thought creatively about different ways of delivering services or carrying out their business. By challenging the accepted or “tried and tested” methods they will have transformed some aspect of their business in order to deliver better services to New Zealanders at a significantly lower cost.
July 2012 Public Sector 23
POINT OF VIEW
Valuing local identity key to better local government by Celia Wade-Brown, Mayor of Wellington
ccording to the proponents of the ‘Better Local Government’ reform package, Auckland Council poses a challenge to the rest of the country. Aucklanders have their own challenges and I wish Mayor Len Brown well in creating a more liveable, compact city. Together we may be able to persuade central government of the desirability of far higher-quality public transport. The proposed central reforms and potential amalgamation of the whole Wellington region into a ‘Super City’ are far bigger challenges to the ability of our city and district councils to provide effective local governance. Local government works best when we take a creative, consultative and above all collaborative approach to city planning and infrastructure investment. Councils achieve city outcomes by working closely with local community groups and business people. It is local government that sets the framework for city planning – after input from everyone concerned. There are eight principles outlined in the ‘Better Local Government’ reforms. Three are of particular concern. Firstly, the
24 Public Sector July 2012
narrowing of the purpose of local government to low-cost provision of local infrastructure; this is an attempt to reduce the role of local bodies, whether or not local communities agree. It implies that councils are only there to oversee water, waste, roads, and consents. The change in purpose queries whether a range of current activities are legitimate activities for the council to be involved in, despite widespread public support. The success of the Rugby Sevens, the investment to make Wellington the top domestic tourism destination, funding provided to Te Papa, being the Fairtrade Capital – all may come under scrutiny from lawyers rather than the community as a whole. Secondly, the introduction of ‘fiscal responsibility requirements’; though this may be a popular proposition as it aims to keep rates down, it deliberately or accidentally fails to acknowledge the causes of most public debt. Infrastructure upgrades, fixing leaky homes, and earthquake strengthening are essential community requirements and should not be subject to unrealistic caps. In addition, there is public demand for councils to take an active role in ensuring the environment does not suffer further deterioration. If current sewage infrastructure or community or cultural facilities are inadequate for local demand, then debt is a valid way to finance improvement. We already have a clear financial strategy, rates and borrowings targets and limits. Lastly, I am concerned with the streamlining of amalgamation proposals. It is proposed that consultation with the public will only remain a step in the reform process if 10 per cent of the population request it through petition, a ridiculously high bar to achieve in 40 working days. I encourage review of council processes, but I won’t support an attempt to limit citizens’ democratic rights. Wellington is not Auckland. We have a much more compact, centralised economic
and cultural urban hub in Wellington city, generating more than 52 per cent of the entire region’s GDP. Do we really want the distinct needs, wants and values in each individual area to be diluted? District plans have different provisions for seaside communities, town centres, and the CBD and so they should. Given there should be differences to preserve heritage and local identity, it’s hard to see how different urban areas will be best served by a single district plan if it aims to take a vanilla approach to urban planning. In the Wellington region, our councils work well together. We already share water management between Hutt Valley and Wellington, have a regional economic development agency and a joint approach on civil defence and resilience issues. Greater Wellington and Wellington City Council are cooperating on the High Quality Transport Spine Study. However, there are current and potential overlaps in urban design, support for voluntary environmental groups and cycling initiatives to name a few, so a redefinition of their separate roles could be helpful from central government. The water quality in the country’s rivers indicates regional councils need to focus on their regulatory role. As Mayor, I want to hear from Wellingtonians on what changes they think are needed to our local and regional councils before we make any recommendations. I’d rather hear directly from the grassroots than via an expensive independent review panel given the prior existence of the Local Government Commission. Wellington City Council is also leading cooperation with all the other territorial councils in the region with a survey of residents. I conclude that New Zealand will be stronger if Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Porirua can cooperate and succeed, without loss of local identity. Structural change is not a panacea.
Celebrating our public service
Join us in celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Public Service Act 1912 which is the basis of New Zealand’s professional, merit-based public service. The contribution of this Act to New Zealand’s high standing as an ethical society, both free of corruption and with a low tolerance of dishonest practice with public resources, has been fundamental to the vital place our wide range of public services have in public life.
© mychillybin.co.nz/Brian Scantlebury
IPANZ New Professionals
Conference 2012 The IPANZ New Professionals Conference 2012 will provide a platform for debate, networking and information gathering for the next generation of leaders, thinkers and policy shapers. 4 benefits of attending:
1. Practical professional development Opportunities for young professionals to grow and learn through work programmes and facilitated workshops.
Hon Bill English, Deputy Prime Minister
2. Discover new ideas Explore the past 100 years, engage with todayâ€™s challenges and successes and envision the future of the public sector. 3. Exposure to collaborative projects Hear from successful cross-government programmes and take part in workshops on building Better Public Services. 4. Network, network, network Build contacts across New Zealand, the core Public Service, the wider State Sector, Local Government, and the private sector.
Contact IPANZ New Professionals Email: email@example.com Phone: 04 562 8259 Web: www.npconference.org.nz
Iain Rennie, State Services Commissioner Colin James, renowned commentator Andrew Kibblewhite, Chief Executive, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet Mai Chen, New Zealandâ€™s premier public law specialist Jeremy Baker, Chief Executive, Learning State Hilary Bryan, the Training Practice Winner and nominees of the 2012 New Professional of the Year Award