I had to laugh at this story in the Herald that has, of all people, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins complaining about Ministerial purchase advisors.
Grant and Chris were both highly partisan ministerial staffers for a number of Labour Ministers, including the PM. Now nothing wrong with that – I was once upon a time also. But not the people I would then choose to act outraged over Ministerial purchase advisors.
The purchase advisors are not even that political. And they are not new – I recall some in the 1990s. What they are about, is every year the Minister signs a huge purchase agreement with their Department. The Departments authors and writes it. It is a bloody good idea for the Minister to have an independent advisor who can look for feather bedding etc. These people probably save the taxpayer huge amounts of money. They are not generally full-time staffers (like Robertson and Hipkins were) but they are contracted to do a specific job. They don’t even have an office in the Beehive.
Bill explains well the good these people do:
Mr English said the purchase advisers were experienced in the public sector and been most helpful to new ministers in showing them how the system worked – “which levers to pull, what the tricks are, and what the bureaucratic jargon means”.
“We did need some objective advice because the public service had been used to getting whatever it wanted and big increases in spending every year,” he said. “The benefits would be shown through in the Budget where he had been able to make significant savings. We have had to make a pretty sudden change to respond to the economic conditions and the ministers and the purchase advisers have done a very good job.”
I suspect each advisor pays for his or her salary 20 times over. Of course Labour would hate that – they are finding and cutting the waste they left behind.Tags: Bill English, Chris Hipkins, Grant Robertson, Labour, Ministerial Staff