13 hectares of more bureaucrats

October 1st, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Gerry Brownlee has put out a PR about the space taken up by the pulic service in . This has had a massive impact on office rentals for the private sector. People like Bob Jones have made scores or hundreds of millions of dollars under Labour in , because of the massive increase. Small and medium businesses have struggled due to the cost of office space.

In the past five years Labour has overseen an increase in the amount of extra floor space leased for bureaucrats in central Wellington equivalent to almost four Te Papas, says National’s State Services spokesman, Gerry Brownlee.

“How can people have faith and trust in Labour’s stewardship of the public service when it has overseen an increase in the amount of extra floor space leased for bureaucrats in the past five years that equates to an additional 13.2 hectares?”

That is a lot of space!

“Meanwhile, Bayleys Real Estate estimates that the government sector now occupies almost 40% of the total commercial space in the Wellington CBD, and says the ‘surge’ of floor uptake involves ‘quite staggering numbers’.”

Gerry included a table of agencies and office space from 1999 to 2008. During that time the amount of office space has increased from 252,000 square metres to 446,000 – a 77% increase.

Some of the largest increases:

  1. Human Rights Commission up 178%
  2. Commerce Commission up 176%
  3. Education Ministry up 155%
  4. Social Development Ministry up 122%
  5. Transport up 117%
  6. Environment Ministry up 110%

In absolute terms the IRD has grown by 25,000 square metres, Education Ministry by 13,000 square metres, Labour Department by almost 7,000 square metres, ACC by 6,000 square metres, NZQA by 5,000 square metres, Justice Ministry by 5,000 square metres.

Congratulations to Treasury who reduced their office space by 2,000 square metres or 18%.

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34 Responses to “13 hectares of more bureaucrats”

  1. Ramsay (123 comments) says:

    Treasury only reduced its space because Cullen instructed them to get rid of staff that did not agree with him – so that would be a 99% reduction then???????

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  2. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,924 comments) says:

    That’s really very funny. Are we the only country in the world that has more public servants per acre than sheep?

    Oh yeah, and I see PGW can’t settle their merger deal because the banks have withdrawn support because of the global kerfuffle because of the sub-prime crisis. Where’s the Fiscal Fool today? Dreaming up another slogan like ‘NZ is well insulated from the sup-prime crisis.”

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  3. RRM (10,034 comments) says:

    Wellington CBD is always going to be dominated by the government. Wherever the Government is it is going to take up floor space. All of the big firms that make stuff are in Auckland where there are more workers (and more CBD space).

    If you accept for argument’s sake that National Governments are about smaller government and Labour Governments are about bigger government, then is the bureaucracy growth 1999-2008 under Labour going to be a constant rate of increase that continues for all time, or is it a swing from the “National” size to the “Labour” size that we can expect to come to some sort of steady state? (at the Labour size.)

    And amongst all the hand wringing about how WRONG/BAD it is, don’t forget that people VOTED FOR THIS… :-)

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  4. freedom101 (510 comments) says:

    Didn’t John Key tell the PSA or some other public service conference last week that there would be no cuts? Is the extra 13 hectares of space with the public servants lying down or standing up?

    So Gerry can fulminate all he likes about the waste, the bureaucracy etc, but meanwhile his leader has said there will be no cuts!

    So what is Gerry trying to say?

    [DPF: Gerry is saying it won’t keep growing. That is different to cutting]

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  5. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    And in the good old Uk, they have increased the Public sector by no less than 1m bodies in Central government.

    MOD has no less than 72 spinmeisters!

    In addition to local councils that is some extra 3m bodies. And all on final salary pensions. All index linked and unaffordable in the short, medium, and long term.

    £5000GBP fine now for leaving a bin out more than 12 hours!

    All to pay for the pensions of the paper pushers! Golden plated pensions that are unaffordable in the private sector!

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  6. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    So at £5k fine for a bin crime, that would be half the average Kiwi gross average wage.

    Coming to Kiwiland quite soon in a 5th Labour Government.

    Bins are only collected every two weeks. So maggots during the summer!

    Coming to Labourland quite soon!

    If you are an Eastern European passport holder there are no fines, only grants!

    Helen slavishly follows all the control methods of UK Nulabour!

    It is all about control, and control, and ultimately control!

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  7. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    It’s not just floor space – it’s a wholesale resource grab by an organisation that does not have any commercial constraints.

    Example; Skilled business analysts being paid market-competitive wages in the private sector, being offered 35% more to join the public service.

    So the bloating public sector pays over the odds for floor space and people.. making private commercial ventures that much less viable. Lousy socialist government. I spit on them. Pah!

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  8. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but why would Brownlee put this out when National’s policy is *not* to reduce bureaucrats.

    I eagerly await scores of negaitve karma for telling the truth.

    [DPF: Stopping further growth would be a significant win]

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  9. RRM (10,034 comments) says:

    I know private enterprises that pay above the market rate, in order to minimise staff turnover. Albeit among factory workers not business analysts. But hardly a trick that’s unique to the socialist gummint!

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  10. david (2,564 comments) says:

    getstaffed, careful with that comparison. Some shallow thinker will claim that what you are complaining about is only the free market in action.

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  11. david (2,564 comments) says:

    bugger too late!

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  12. berend (1,716 comments) says:

    Let’s decrease our carbon footprint by starting in Wellington…

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  13. Buggerlugs (1,592 comments) says:

    I think these figures have all come from PQs – and he’s been asking for a while trying to get the info so it’s probably even higher in some cases now

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  14. Joker (40 comments) says:

    There are stories out there about Government departments getting into bidding wars against each other for office space.

    That is disgracefull

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  15. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    RRM said, and it is sad but true:

    “…….And amongst all the hand wringing about how WRONG/BAD it is, don’t forget that people VOTED FOR THIS…”

    The trouble is, RRM, that a great proportion of the people who vote for this sort of government are NOT people who suffer in overpayment of tax, or in any other consequential ways as a result of this waste of taxpayers money. And a waste it is, these people are not adding value to the economy, they are part of the dead weight dragging it down.

    Plus of course Labour knows that they have another few tens of thousands of guaranteed votes in the form of all these people who probably couldn’t get jobs as cushy or as overpaid in the private sector. One also smells the presence of politically correct fellow-travelers and cronies among these massive numbers of cosy supernumaries.

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  16. PhilBest (5,125 comments) says:

    Berend, there would be a lot of logic in carbon reductions by dispersing CBD’s out to where more of the workers actually live. It’s called “Multi-Nodal Development” and as usual for sensible suggestions, Green activists hate the idea because it allows people to retain their freedoms.

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  17. Buggerlugs (1,592 comments) says:

    PhilBest – so MFAT would have to relocate to Khandallah? Ministry of Social Development to Stokes Valley? lol

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  18. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    Solutions to the overcrowding of the Public Service

    1. Send half the staff home on full pay for 3 months and tell them to get a real job

    2. Move to premises that will hold the half the staff

    3. Make every internal form have a sunset date on it. after the date its not required to be completed

    4. Every new form introduced to have another form withdrawn from circulation.

    5. Afther 12 months repeat steps 1 and 2

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  19. Ross Miller (1,706 comments) says:

    Gooner … if you put a freeze on hiring, as I suspect will happen, you effectively cut as it will force management to shift resources to where there is a real (not imagined) need leaving the gaps to whither on the vine.

    p.s. Does Parakura Horamea qualify for a whole hectare all by himself.

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  20. coventry (322 comments) says:

    So when will that ‘big one’ strike in Wellington ?

    Let’s hope it’s on a work day when parliament is sitting…

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  21. Greg BB (32 comments) says:

    Brownlee misses the point. A large increase in bureacrats from a labour government is alright if there is the same percentage increase in front line staff. Unfortunately I have suspicions that this is not the case.

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  22. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    “Hate to be the bearer of bad news but why would Brownlee put this out when National’s policy is *not* to reduce bureaucrats.”

    Haven’t been following this one, but was the promise with respect to the total number of people employed in the public sector? Because in net terms, 1 less employee in the Family Commission and 1 more nurse in a hospital, doesn’t reduce the total number of people employed.

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  23. ben (2,384 comments) says:

    Congratulations to Treasury who reduced their office space by 2,000 square metres or 18%.

    About sums it up. Spending up. Thinking down.

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  24. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    How many members of the public service does it take to wallpaper a room?

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  25. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    Depends how thin you slice them.

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  26. dave strings (608 comments) says:

    Lots of new buildings errected just to house them too. In fact, there are at least two being built right now, one to grow Justice, I’m not sure about who the other one is for.

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  27. RRM (10,034 comments) says:

    dave strings – and a lot of builders, plumbers, electricians ETC are pretty happy to see another good big new building going up!

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  28. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,754 comments) says:

    How much additional cost was added by abolishing the Privy Council?

    Having to build a Supreme Court and finance its running cost for “rubbish New Zealand justice” is just ridiculous.

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  29. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,754 comments) says:

    Strangely David wants to boost the waste in the public sector by removing the Queen and installing a tin pot dictator president.

    A president Jim Bolger or Helen Clark anyone? What a joke, although some say New Zealand is a joke already.

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  30. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    OECD

    “How much additional cost was added by abolishing the Privy Council?

    Having to build a Supreme Court and finance its running cost for “rubbish New Zealand justice” is just ridiculous.”

    Cost is irrelevant.

    Gives the Govt. more control.

    Anyway the Privy Council was a poor substitute for a country that introduced “Retrospectivity to Law”

    And they wore very funny clothes. I heard that the cost of SC is over $110m pa?

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  31. clintheine (1,571 comments) says:

    OECD, in the fine tradition of National and Labour cooperation I am sure that Key will nominate Helen as our first ever President…. I am sure she told him she wanted the job so it is hers :) After all Key was ok to be told by Helen about the TV3 debate. Ouch.

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  32. kiwipolemicist (393 comments) says:

    The public sector is growing faster than the general population is: it’s like a B grade sci fi movie where the aliens land and start breeding as a means of taking over the world.

    http://kiwipolemicist.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/why-has-government-use-of-floor-space-increased-by-42-in-five-years/

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  33. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,754 comments) says:

    Glutaemus Maximus says on October 2nd, 2008 at 7:16 am:

    I heard that the cost of SC is over $110m pa?

    The government can reason that this cost is more affordable now that there is no “underclass” thanks to nine years of Labour rule. ;-)

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  34. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    The spawning and sex lives of the public sector!

    Parkinson’s Law
    Prof. Cyril Northcote Parkinson

    ‘WORK EXPANDS SO AS TO FILL THE TIME AVAILABLE FOR ITS COMPLETION’
    General recognition of this fact is shown in the proverbial phrase ‘It is the busiest man who has time to spare.’ Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and dispatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent finding the postcard, another in hunting for spectacles, half an hour in a search for the address, an hour and a quarter in composition, and twenty minutes in deciding whether or not to take an umbrella when going to the pillar box in the next street. The total effort that would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety, and toil.

    Granted that work (and especially paperwork) is thus elastic in its demands on time, it is manifest that there need be little or no relationship between the work to be done and the size of the staff to which it may be assigned. A lack of real activity does not, of necessity, result in leisure. A lack of occupation is not necessarily revealed by a manifest idleness. The thing to be done swells in importance and complexity in a direct ratio with the time to be spent. This fact is widely recognized, but less attention has been paid to its wider implications, more especially in the field of public administration. Politicians and taxpayers have assumed (with occasional phases of doubt) that a rising total in the number of civil servants must reflect a growing volume of work to be done. Cynics, in questioning this belief, have imagined that the multiplication of officials must have left some of them idle or all of them able to work for shorter hours. But this is a matter in which faith and doubt seem equally misplaced. The fact is that the number of the officials and the quantity of the work are not related to each other at all. The rise in the total of those employed is governed by Parkinson’s Law and would be much the same whether the volume of the work were to increase, diminish, or even disappear. The importance of Parkinson’s Law lies in the fact that it is a law of growth based upon an analysis of the factors by which that growth is controlled.

    The validity of this recently discovered law must rest mainly on statistical proofs, which will follow. Of more interest to the general reader is the explanation of the factors underlying the general tendency to which this law gives definition. Omitting technicalities (which are numerous) we may distinguish at the outset two motive forces. They can be represented for the present purpose by two almost axiomatic statements, thus: (1) ‘An official wants to multiply subordinates, not rivals’ and (2) ‘Officials make work for each other.’

    To comprehend Factor One, we must picture a civil servant, called A, who finds himself overworked. Whether this overwork is real or imaginary is immaterial, but we should observe, in passing, that A’s sensation (or illusion) might easily result from his own decreasing energy: a normal symptom of middle age. For this real or imagined overwork there are, broadly speaking, three possible remedies. He may resign; he may ask to halve the work with a colleague called B; he may demand the assistance of two subordinates, to be called C and D. There is probably no instance, however, in history of A choosing any but the third alternative. By resignation he would lose his pension rights. By having B appointed, on his own level in the hierarchy, he would merely bring in a rival for promotion to W’s vacancy when W (at long last) retires. So A would rather have C and D, junior men, below him. They will add to his consequence and, by dividing the work into two categories, as between C and D, he will have the merit of being the only man who comprehends them both. It is essential to realize at this point that C and D are, as it were, inseparable. To appoint C alone would have been impossible. Why? Because C, if by himself, would divide the work with A and so assume almost the equal status that has been refused in the first instance to B; a status the more emphasized if C is A’s only possible successor. Subordinates must thus number two or more, each being thus kept in order by fear of the other’s promotion. When C complains in turn of being overworked (as he certainly will) A will, with the concurrence of C, advise the appointment of two assistants to help C. But he can then avert internal friction only by advising the appointment of two more assistants to help D, whose position is much the same. With this recruitment of E, F, G and H the promotion of A is now practically certain.

    Seven officials are now doing what one did before. This is where Factor Two comes into operation. For these seven make so much work for each other that all are fully occupied and A is actually working harder than ever. An incoming document may well come before each of them in turn. Official E decides that it falls within the province of F, who places a draft reply before C, who amends it drastically before consulting D, who asks G to deal with it. But G goes on leave at this point, handing the file over to H, who drafts a minute that is signed by D and returned to C, who revises his draft accordingly and lays the new version before A.

    What does A do? He would have every excuse for signing the thing unread, for he has many other matters on his mind. Knowing now that he is to succeed W next year, he has to decide whether C or D should succeed to his own office. He had to agree to G’s going on leave even if not yet strictly entitled to it. He is worried whether H should not have gone instead, for reasons of health. He has looked pale recently – partly but not solely because of his domestic troubles. Then there is the business of F’s special increment of salary for the period of the conference and E’s application for transfer to the Ministry of Pensions. A has heard that D is in love with a married typist and that G and F are no longer on speaking terms – no-one seems to know why. So A might be tempted to sign C’s draft and have done with it. But A is a conscientious man. Beset as he is with problems created by his colleagues for themselves and for him – created by the mere fact of these officials’ existence – he is not the man to shirk his duty. He reads through the draft with care, deletes the fussy paragraphs added by C and H, and restores the thing to the form preferred in the first instance by the able (if quarrelsome) F. He corrects the English – none of these young men can write grammatically – and finally produces the same reply he would have written if officials C to H had never been born. Far more people have taken far longer to produce the same result. No-one has been idle. All have done their best. And it is late in the evening before A finally quits his office and begins the return journey to Ealing. The last of the office lights are being turned off in the gathering dusk that marks the end of another day’s administrative toil. Among the last to leave, A reflects with bowed shoulders and a wry smile that late hours, like grey hairs, are among the penalties of success.

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