Very smart appointment

July 8th, 2009 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The agency designing Auckland’s Super City has hired trade union leader to help it merge 6800 employees of the eight councils into one.

Ms Harre has resigned as national secretary of the Distribution Workers Union to take on a human resources and change management role with the agency, which has to forge the new by October 2010.

What a very smart move by the Transition Agency. One of the most delicate issues will be the merging of jobs, potential job losses, and also possible change in the location of where people work etc. Laila is likely to minimise any chance that this is done in a way which is unfair, or perceived by most people as unfair.

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39 Responses to “Very smart appointment”

  1. wreck1080 (3,821 comments) says:

    Then again, she just might hire everyone.

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  2. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Smart move???

    Isn’t this like hiring a white ant to help get rid of termites?

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  3. Brian Marshall (194 comments) says:

    Laila is a very capable person. She should do her job well and, as you say David, take away critisim that any job losses are unfair.
    I don’t always agree with her politics, but I think she has been one of the most sensible on the left of the politcial spectrum.

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  4. petal (705 comments) says:

    I have a lot of respect for her. She has shown she will openly disagree with ‘her side’ when she thinks it is warranted. She is not a programmed drone like so many on the left.

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  5. KiwiGreg (3,226 comments) says:

    ” potential job losses”????

    If they aren’t making a couple of thousand people redundant this thing is never going to work.

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  6. Ruby (110 comments) says:

    There’s nothing ‘smart’ about hiring a woman who thinks that taxpayer funded tertiary education for all is the solution to the country’s problems, and I don’t know where all this sudden praise is coming from.

    The move is nothing but tokenism to appease the Left.

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  7. Inventory2 (10,185 comments) says:

    @ Ruby – are you speaking as one of the left who is being appeased?

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  8. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    KiwiGreg
    Its not how many people you keep, but who you keep that will determine how successful this process will be. The objective should be to keep the productive staff and weed out those overpaid and not producing. Otherwise productivity will never improve and will take 2 instead of one year to get your permit. Hopefully the Transition Authority will pick competant people to sort things through, otherwise the new council will have to do their job through re-hiring and re-structuring.

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  9. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    I’m with Ruby. That Laila Harre has any public profile in NZ, any imput into government and political processes at all, is only to the country’s overall detriment.

    Go away Laila. Just vanish. Troglodyte.

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  10. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Go away Laila. Just vanish. Troglodyte.

    Says he who spends his whole day on kiwiblog, stealing his employer’s time, bandwidth, heat and probably money as well. What heppened yesterday reddy? Boss in the office all day, was he?

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  11. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Jack, you’re going to kill Kiwiblog.

    You’re a dumb narcissist, you make the exchanges dumb, and you attract others even more dumb.

    You’re as much a white ant to Kiwiblog as Laila Harre is to this country’s job creation prospects and future prosperity.

    (one of the reasons I wasn’t here yesterday is that I saw the place over run with your simpleton nonsense and thought “who needs it?”. And I’m thinking the same thing today.)

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  12. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    Well, according to you, I killed Sarah Palin, so why not?

    You’re problem is your world view is so narrow you will never achieve traction, and so, out of frustration, you lash out at anyone and anything.

    Apart from your loathing of anyone with more than 2 brain cells, why wouldn’t Laile Harre make a good member of the Transition Agency? There’s only one Roger Douglas, and he seems busy elsewhere, so someone has to staff the damned thing, and I am sure Laila Harre’s views will be a lot more representative of much of Auckland than you ever could be.

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  13. The Silent Majority (85 comments) says:

    “The move is nothing but tokenism to appease the Left.”

    Let’s hope it shuts them up.

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  14. KiwiGreg (3,226 comments) says:

    @bchapman I’m assuming anyone with half a brain will eliminate the less competent of the 5 or 6 people currently all doing the same job, but then I am in business not local government.

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  15. big bruv (13,573 comments) says:

    I just cannot see how the appointment of a hard left union bludger can ever be described as a “good appointment”.

    Why the hell is Neville Key so keen to appease the left?

    [DPF: The appointment was made by the transition authority, not the Government]

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  16. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    “…Why the hell is Neville Key so keen to appease the left?..”

    um..!..’cos he’s trying to be a ‘centreist’..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  17. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    “Why the hell is Neville Key so keen to appease the left?”

    Key didn’t appoint her.

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  18. big bruv (13,573 comments) says:

    Stephen

    Do you really think Key had nothing to do with this appointment?

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  19. bchapman (649 comments) says:

    @KiwiiGreg
    I agree but thats not how all bureaucracies work. The Transition Authority runs the risk of becoming another political organisation who will hand out high paying jobs for the boys. I would like their decisions to come under the scrutiny that every other public body should be under. Only then can we be assured that the will do a quality job, committed to hiring the best staff. At the moment they operate under secrecy deciding upon the use of public money that will have long term financial implications for the new council. Thats not to say they won’t do a good job, its just we have no way of knowing. If they stuff up the new council will have to hire new staff many of whom will have been made redundant or put up with inefficient, substandard workers. I would like them to come out with a commitment to transparent decision making and hiring.

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  20. reid (16,112 comments) says:

    As a few alluded to above, there are two critical parameters at play in this amalgamation. One is the political (selling it) the other is the operational (putting the rubber on the road).

    These are inter-related and while Laila’s appointment is smart with respect to the former it’s not such good news regarding the latter.

    As I’ve said before, this is a one-off opportunity to ditch sub-optimal legacy IT systems and operational processes. If you don’t do it now, the appetite for doing it later disappears once the whole thing settles into BAU and you have to do a business case for improving every little thing. (By “little” I am of course talking about multi-million dollar operations like waste-disposal for example.)

    The people who’ll suffer the effects of retaining sub-optimal systems and processes are of course, the rate-payers.

    Anyone who’s ever been involved in the design of a large business amalgamation knows that Unions can create interminable delay and compromises are often made by allowing people to retain their T’s&C’s in exchange for not resisting the merger. This of course simply creates complexity all over the place and while it prima facie gets the job done, it creates a nightmare scenario behind the scenes for those striving to manage the enterprise, operationally.

    This doesn’t HAVE to happen and I hope it doesn’t, but this appointment makes me think that it probably will.

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  21. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    “Do you really think Key had nothing to do with this appointment?

    I don’t think there’s any specific reason to think that he did have something to do with it, but I guess it’s possible in some way. I would think that leaving the appointments of these people up to the agency lets us avoid these decisions being overly political ones (i.e. made by politicians – kind of like how Cullen appointed the people who appointed the people who administer the Cullen fund) but perhaps i’m being naive. If she was totally unqualified for such a role I’d be pretty suspicious but, doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Anyway, she’s only one of 10 executives!

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  22. RKBee (1,344 comments) says:

    Hmmm it seems everbody has their price.

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  23. Ruby (110 comments) says:

    Inventory2 (3253) 3 2 Says:

    July 8th, 2009 at 9:09 am
    @ Ruby – are you speaking as one of the left who is being appeased?

    No. How about you?

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  24. Cerium (23,359 comments) says:

    Choosing someone who has plenty of relevant experience and has general respect (beyond the blinkered brigade) makes sense. Who would be better qualified?

    I doubt Key was involved but I expect he would approve.

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  25. Camryn (551 comments) says:

    I was on a team that played a similar role within the IRD once (not so much eliminating positions but creating a smaller and more more standardized set of defined positions for easier hiring, training, etc).

    It was my first time involved in position/role design in the public sector and union buy-in was seen as hugely important to an extent that surprised me. As my background had been private sector, I was more into the “let’s design what’s optimal and work on getting buy-in to that” rather than second-guess ourselves before even going to them with a “proposal”. Seemed to work fine.

    I think Laila will be an asset to this process if her role ends up being to phrase the decisions in union-speak and to help the employees cope with the change. It won’t be good if her role will have sufficient scope to actually make union opinions a factor in the decisions, rather than simple efficiency… excepting, of course, situations where two options are equally optimal but one option is union preferable, which would be valuable input.

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  26. Fletch (6,154 comments) says:

    The agency designing Auckland’s Super City has hired trade union leader Laila Harre to help it merge 6800 employees of the eight councils into one.

    What’s the bet we’ll be left with people with a Socialist, Marxist bent.

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  27. reid (16,112 comments) says:

    It was my first time involved in position/role design in the public sector and union buy-in was seen as hugely important to an extent that surprised me.

    Bingo, Camryn.

    It won’t be good if her role will have sufficient scope to actually make union opinions a factor in the decisions

    And given what we know of Laila, one could safely predict that this is precisely what she’ll try to do, to the max. She’s very intelligent, but in a warped sense in that, exactly like McCarten, she lacks a pragmatic balance. She’s an idealist, and what that means is that they look at the humanity of it all and that’s all they ever think about. The only reason people don’t think she’s a dribbling idiot is because she’s bright enough to hide that side of her behind a veneer of pragmatism, but that’s all it is, a veneer.

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  28. gd (2,286 comments) says:

    IMHO the current 6800 city employees will grow to in excess of 10000 in 3 to 5 years. Why. Because there is no established KPIs or a framework to determine the success or failure of the project.

    There should have been 4 KPIs covering Rates /Employee Numbers/Services Provided/Customer Satisfaction Index.

    Without these there is no quantifiable measure to determine whether the outcome met the goals.

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  29. reid (16,112 comments) says:

    You’re exactly right, gd.

    These need to be published and people held to account for them, starting with Rodney and the CEO of the Transition Authority.

    It’s an absolute no-brainer and my concern mounts each day that goes by without these being established.

    It boils down to whether the people who have the power to make the decision to set these up, want to be held accountable.

    Given the magnitude and potential of this undertaking, I’m surprised the journalists haven’t started demanding these already. I would have expected at least Fran O’Sullivan to have done a piece on this by now. It wouldn’t occur to most journalists but she at least, gets business.

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  30. BlairM (2,307 comments) says:

    If she is merely helping to manage the change and the redundancies, then yes, it’s a fine appointment.

    If she actually has some say over who keeps their jobs and who doesn’t, then the appointment is insane.

    Unfortunately, we are not given enough information as to how much power she will have.

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  31. Fletch (6,154 comments) says:

    My local council, The Franklin District Council, is not putting up with this Super City thing anyway. They want to establish themselves as a Unitary Authority (UA).
    I quote from the Franklin County News –

    “In it’s submission to the select committee on Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill, Franklin District Council has proposed that the southern boundary of the Auckland Council be Franklin’s northern boundary, and that Franklin be established as a “new unitary authority”.

    If you want to read the whole story, go HERE, click on the ‘Select Title’ dropdown -> FREE Auckland & Northland Community papers -> Franklin County News. It’s on the cover.

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  32. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    I suspect this is more in line of something like hiring a poacher to be the game keeper. I bet Harre is far from being pure as driven snow and would know who can be pushed and want palms could be greased. Years of being top dog in a union is hardly the lifestyle of a nun.

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  33. clintheine (1,569 comments) says:

    Laila has been one of the biggest nuts in the nuthouse for many a year. Having her running something like this is potentially very dangerous. Her agenda has always been to the furtherest reaches of the far left. I expect once completed, the hard left will have a very useful pawn to play with – thanks to this ever so insightful appointment.

    Who is in the Transition Agency?

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  34. AbsoLutely (1 comment) says:

    The intention may be to carry out the axing without being seen to be unfair by “most people”. The most people who will not see it as being too unfair are going to be the ones who get to keep their jobs the ones who will see it to be unfair will be the ones who take job losses. None of it is simple but lets not sugar coat it??

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  35. Jack5 (4,921 comments) says:

    Clintheine’s on target. Laila’s not a bad looker, and she is lucid, smooth, and subtle in speech. She lulls men into complacency. If her dial was as hard as H1′s and her voice was as harsh as that of H1 in full cry, there would have been aggro from the centre and right about Laila’s appointment.

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  36. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Wendell Cox, a colleague of mine in the US who has made a reputation for his studies of mega mergers of Local Government, tells me that while mega-mergers are often driven by an alliance between business and the left, the end result of the-mega merger is to move the politics of the whole area to the left. Think of Red Ted in London.
    The mergers create great hostility at the local level which the left is more able to exploit. So while many seem to think that John Banks will wear the crown of the Super City, it is more likely to be Mike Lee of the ARC, or someone else from the left.
    WEndell’s study of mega-mergers in Canada and the US also show that the projected savings are overwhelmed by the increased wages negotiated by the Unions who gain strength as a result of the mega-mergers. It is much easier to pay people more for their ‘bigger responsibilities’ which of course then trickles down through the system.
    Also, the resulting organisation usually takes staff from the biggest prior organisation because the whole philosophy driving the merger is that bigger means better.
    We see that two of the staff appointed to the Transition Agency are officers from the ARC and Craig Shearer is one of their main advocates of Smart Growth. The ARC will supply most of the staff to the new Super City because they at least have some idea where places like Wellsford and Port Albert and Clevedon and Waiuku are on the map while the Auckland City council staff are familiar only with Auckland City property and issues.

    The appointment of Laila Harre is entirely predictable from Wendell’s studies and we see the standard drama unfolding. Mike Lee will be the Mayor, Craig Shearer will write the plan and Laila Harre will be personell officer. Welcome to the mega world.

    Of course we will be proud of our world first achievement. There is no city in the western world of over one million population governed by a single council. Indeed Wendell and I cannot find one with only eight. Paris has 1300.

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  37. webbly (2 comments) says:

    There is no city in the western world of over one million population governed by a single council.

    How about Brisbane? Population: 1,027,847 (2008)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brisbane_City_Council

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  38. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Brisbane metropolitan area has a population of over 2 million. Brisbane City governed by the Brisbane city council has a population of 1,028,000 as you say but that is only half the city. Just as Auckland has a population of 1.4 million but Auckland City is only 443,000.
    Brisbane metropolitan area is governed by a number of cities not just one.
    There are many cities such as Geneva with a council of governing over 1,000,000 but within much larger metropolitan areas.
    The auckland proposal is unique too in that it is a total merger. None of the other mega mergers in the US and Canada have attempted that. They have all been partial mergers.

    However, Brisbane is an outrider in Australia and everywhere else for having such a large single council governing over half the metro population. It is hardly popular.

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  39. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    Here is the best we can do.
    Brisbane City council pop is closer to 1m. After the amalgamation, it appears that there are 5-6 governments in the metropolitan area including the Brisbane city council. This does not include the Gold Coast or other areas of SEQueensland

    It would take some effort to figure out if one of the governments has jurisdiction over part of the metropolitan area (which is why I say 5-6)

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