Shane Jones wants to shit kick through bureaucratic brick walls

Shane Jones is promoting more power for politicians over public servants, and has claimed it takes too long to have funding allocated to projects. This is a bit scary given the amount of money he has to hand out to the regions, but it is on his personal wish list and he didn’t speak on behalf of the Government.

Stuff: NZ First’s Shane Jones wants ministers to have more power over public sector

Cabinet Minister Shane Jones, says he would like to “soften that line” between governance and the bureaucracy, including allowing ministers to appoint top officials.

In an interview on the provincial growth fund Jones, the Regional Development Minister railed against a bureaucratic system he characterised as a “treacle-riddled”, slowing down process around funding economic projects, without evidence of improved efficiency.

This is scary given Jones’ short record to date in proposing funds for shaky projects and then claiming he forgot about getting advice pointing out serious shortcomings.  See Shane Jones ‘genuinely forgot’, Sage ‘memory let her down’.

“I’m looking forward to fighting an election to change the way that politicians relate to the bureaucracy,” Jones said.

“I know we have this separation of governance and the bureaucracy, but I’m really attracted to the idea where the Aussies have softened that line, and key ministers bring in their s…-kickers to get things done. That’s always been my preference.”

I’m sure a number of ministers would like to shit kick their policies through bureaucratic brick walls, but there are good reasons to have some checks on impatient and extravagant politicians.

Jones said his comments were not Government policy and were “not consistent with the State Services Act” but were ones he would like to campaign on in the future.

Campaigning on bureaucrat bashing may win some votes from the plebs, but it should meet resistance from Parliamentary voters.

Among other things the State Sector Act gives the State Services Commissioner the power over chief executive appointments, without influence from the Beehive, at least in theory.

Unlike many other countries, public servants are required to act in a politically neutral way.

The Public Services Association warned in December that the influence of ministerial advisors, Beehive staff which are appointed to serve the interests of their minister, are undermining this neutrality.

This aim at public service neutrality may be flawed but it is very important in New Zealand. Giving more power to ministers, unfettered by public servants, would be a big risk as we don’t have checks and balances that other countries have – no Lords and no Senate to oversee Parliament.

A much more powerful Jones in charge is something we should be very wary of.

Jones followed up the interview on Facebook:

“Surely I’m not the only one who would like to see less bureaucracy in this country? Meeting high governance and probity standards should not come at the expense of efficiency and pace in my books”.

He wants to have the power to push through what he wants at the expense of probity standards?

That should be a worry with any Minister. Especially so of Jones given his record to date.

Allowing Ministers to shit kick through the bureaucracy would be a very risky removal of one of the few means of checks and balances we have.

Press gallery (on top of thousands of public servants) evacuated

The earthquake aftermath continues in Wellington with the latest evacuation being from the Parliamentary press gallery building.

Political journalists have been complaining about their offices for a few days.

Stuff: Political reporters vacating Parliamentary press gallery office over earthquake concerns

Fairfax Media political reporters were told by their managers on Thursday to vacate the press gallery building behind Parliament, which has been yellow stickered as an earthquake prone building since 2014.

Fairfax Media executive editor Sinead Boucher said numerous factors underpinned the decision to remove reporting staff from the parliamentary press gallery annex.

There had been engineer’s reports since the major quake on November 14, which indicated the building had suffered no major damage and was safe to occupy.

However, the same building had been under a yellow sticker since 2014 and as recently as Thursday, there was confirmation that parts of the building met only 20 per cent of code.

It is understood Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand staff have also been told by their managers to leave.

She said she was aware that Radio New Zealand held similar concerns and had earlier today confirmed that its parliamentary reporting staff would be moving out.

“The fact that two major news organisations feel this level of concern for where their staff are currently operating from should not be under-estimated. We urgently need Parliamentary Services to work with us on safer options,” Boucher said.

This follows news today that the Wellington City Council will demolish three of their own buildings.

And Radio NZ reports that at least 3,000 of the capital’s 18,000 public servants are out of their offices. Quake aftermath: 1 in 6 public servants forced out:

The 15-floor Asteron Centre, on Featherston St opposite the railway station, was evacuated yesterday after an engineer’s report found quake-damaged stairwells could be unusable in a major aftershock.

The building is six years old, and is home to 2700 workers, including hundreds of Inland Revenue and Civil Aviation Authority staff.

An IRD spokesman said engineers confirmed today there was a safety issue.

He said the building houses 2000 IRD workers and some have already been relocated to temporary office space.

The Government Property Group is already dealing with about 2000 displaced public servants, following the closures of Defence House, Statistics House and a series of buildings around the condemned block at 61 Molesworth St.

Going by those numbers there must be many other workers evacuated on top of the public servants.