Key’s speech

March 15th, 2012 at 12:59 pm by David Farrar

Some extracts from ’s speech to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce:

The first change I’m announcing is that there will be a new results-driven focus for the public service.

So I have identified 10 challenging results that I want to see achieved over the next three to five years.

Achieving these results will be difficult and demanding. In fact for some of them it will be extremely difficult.

This is very welcome, but very risky. Voters will hold the Government to account if these are not achieved, and it is inevitable some of them probably won’t be as the Government doesn’t control all the variables. But it will focus all of Government on meeting these outcomes, rather than just focusing on outputs. The 10 outcomes sought are:

  1. a reduction in long-term welfare dependency, in particular a significant drop in the number of people who have been on a benefit for more than 12 months
  2. more young children, and particularly Maori and Pacific children, in early childhood education
  3. immunisation rates for infants to increase, and a substantial reduction in rheumatic fever cases among children
  4. a reduction in the number of assaults on children
  5. an increase in the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA level 2 or an equivalent qualification
  6. a more skilled workforce, with an increase in the number of people coming through with advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees
  7. a reduction in the crime rate, not just total crime, but also violent crime and youth crime
  8. a reduction in the rate of re-offending
  9. a one-stop online shop for all government advice and support that businesses need
  10. see transactions with government completed easily in a digital environment

I am pleased to see the crime focus is not just on total crime, which is a fairly meaningless figure which counts a minor cannabis offence the same as a murder. Also pleased to see the focus on improving the government’s online presence.

I have appointed Ministers to lead each of these 10 results, along with a public service chief executive who is accountable for demonstrating real progress against his or her result.

Excellent, you need the accountability of a Minister to drive things.

Underneath each of the results will be a measurable and stretching target, like a certain percentage increase or decrease within a particular time.

We have already decided one of these concrete targets.

For example, the Minister of Education has told me that for result number five she has set a target of 85 per cent of 18-year-olds having NCEA level 2 or equivalent in five years.

The current figure is around 68 per cent, so achieving the target will be very tough.

But I don’t want easy targets. I want targets that are going to stretch the ability of the public sector to deliver them, and that are going to force change.

Because if they are easy targets they aren’t worth doing.

This is in fact the most significant part of the speech, rather than the ministry merger which most of the media seemed focused on.

This term, there will be no more than 36,475 full-time equivalent positions in core government administration.

We are under that number now and we will stay under it.

 The cap will count most people working in government departments and in some Crown entities, but doesn’t include frontline staff like teachers, police officers, hospital staff or prison officers.

When we came into Government in 2008, we immediately imposed a cap of just under 39,000 FTE positions in core government administration.

That cap was successful in turning around what had been a huge increase in public service numbers.

The definition of core government administration wasn’t around at the time, but we know that from 2002 to 2008 the number of people employed in government departments increased by around 12,000 FTEs. That’s an overall increase of 38 per cent in just six years.

Our cap changed that. The number of FTE positions in core government administration stopped growing, and then dropped by about 2,400 over three years.

So the cap of 36,475 is still massively higher than the 29,000 it was just a decade ago.

Our intention is to create a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment on 1 July this year.

This new department would integrate the functions of:

  • The Ministry of Economic Development.
  • The Department of Labour.
  • The Ministry of Science and Innovation.
  • The Department of Building and Housing.

I have long advocated that we should carry on doing what Labour did in their last term (reversing what National did in the 90s) and have fewer government departments, and fewer Ministers incidentally. You both reduce backend costs, but also make collaboration easier.

And I do want to say that this is the only departmental merger we are currently planning.

 I’m not ruling them out in the future, but there is no plan for wholesale reorganisation.

A pity, but that will at least give some certainty to public servants who are having a tough time of it.

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47 Responses to “Key’s speech”

  1. Nookin (3,035 comments) says:

    So where are the wholesale job losses that Garner was going on about this morning?

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  2. swan (659 comments) says:

    Those ministries/departments dont seem like they have alot in common. Economic development and Labour, sure. DBH and ministry of science and innovation, possibly. But all 4 together? What has Labour got to do with science?

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  3. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    Now we can just hope that this new department will headquarter itself outside of downtown Wellington. Wouldn’t that save a bit of money as well?

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  4. Raymond Luxury Yacht (7 comments) says:

    Key’s list of ‘great expectations’ is just more dog whistle BS.

    {DPF: I suspect you are one of those 12 year olds who uses a term without understanding what it is. But just in case you are not, please explain how the expectations are a dog whistle?]

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  5. Peter Freedman (127 comments) says:

    I almost stopped reading the speech when the cliches arrived on time, almost even before the plane has landed.

    “a new results-driven focus” ” identified 10 challenging results” Who writes this moronic drivel.?”

    My only other comment is to ask what happened to Motherhood and Apple Pie? Did the big bad wolf eat them during the flight?

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  6. Peter Freedman (127 comments) says:

    Dunno about others, but my dog whistles “Dixie” when she is very hungry.

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  7. Nookin (3,035 comments) says:

    So, Peter. You regard the measurable results expected as nonsense?

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  8. Australis (99 comments) says:

    It was a big advance in the 1980s when departments and agencies were required to measure their performance by outputs rather than inputs. That was a world first which attracted a lot of attention from public administrators around the world and has now become mainstream in developed countries.

    Of course, ‘outputs’ were just a proxy for ‘outcomes’, but there’s a world of difference between the two. The former says “do your best within the controllable factors”. The latter says “be accountable for finding ways to make it happen”.

    An easy out from accountability is pointing to the failure of other departments to deliver their part of the jigsaw. That opportunity will be reduced by merging Joyce’s departments and by allocating the key performance indicators to the 10 hapless ministers.

    It should be possible. The private sector has to achieve it to survive. If the novel process works, it will definitely be the hallmark of Key’s premiership.

    [DPF: I agree. It will be hard for future Govts to back away from it, if this Govt can make it happen. And as you say, this is nothing new for the private sector]

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  9. Peter Freedman (127 comments) says:

    Nookin, until the expectations expected actually become real and not just expectations expected, I expect the answer to your question, which I am sure you await with excited expectations has to be that I have no expectations either way..

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  10. Raymond Luxury Yacht (7 comments) says:

    Sorry, David. You’re quite correct. It’s more of a wolf-whistle to the public servants who are driving the agenda with the PM as their mouth-piece. Afterall, everything in the speech is derived from the advice senior public servants provided back in November.

    They probably wrote the speech too….

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  11. wreck1080 (3,730 comments) says:

    That name certainly wasn’t invented by a clever person. I don’t like it, too long.

    How about a simpler name, Ministry of Commerce? Or, Ministry of Industry?

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  12. Daigotsu (450 comments) says:

    The odds of the PM coming back and checking stuff off his list of “deliverable results” in two years is next to none.

    I would love an ACTUAL results driven policy but “We will be results driven” is just something politicians say because it tests well with focus groups.

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  13. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    I just don’t understand the inclusion of housing in the new ministry. As far as I can see, housing is an infrastructure activity rather than an innovation or economic development activity.

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  14. excusesofpuppets (134 comments) says:

    Why not just have a “Ministry of Everything!”?

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  15. MikeG (394 comments) says:

    Watch out for another leaky building type crisis in a few years after the ex-Economic Development people put pressure on the ex-Housing people to lower building standards – all in the name of productivity of course.

    There will be similar pressures on the ex-Dept of Labour people as OSH standards drop, again in the name of productivity. Of course the poor consequences of the merger won’t be seen until after the next election…

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  16. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,795 comments) says:

    It must be a REAL bastard, being a leftie. Which ever way you turn, you’re buggered.

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  17. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    Meh, more of the same. I would have shown interest in this announcement, nay even gone into bat for Key about it when I was a bit younger. Having seen these cycles of reform announced, flounder and be spun as success irrespective of the results I now have little hope of real change.

    These reorganisations are like taking a big jumble of junk and stacking it all neatly. Same mass, just less waste space and more pleasing to the eye.

    What is needed is a critical look at what can simply be stopped. And there’d be some pain, because we hapless citizens has become more and more accustomed to the government regulating and overseeing so much of our lives that, for example, suddenly loosing “National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women” would cause some genuine angst for some, and widespread faux outrage from the voter-influencing media.

    We have to somehow reverse the relentless march of government spending up our % of GDP chart, or we’re destined for sovereign debt default city, certainly in my lifetime.

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  18. excusesofpuppets (134 comments) says:

    Yep, the employment world for women was a lot better before the government attempted to change it.

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  19. backster (2,077 comments) says:

    The appointing of high official and a Minister to each of the targets and holding them accountable is a ‘first’, an an excellent initiative.
    It is going to be very difficult to reach the crime targets unless Judges can be drawn into the same aspirations. Perhaps the Minister of Justice rather than Police should be given this responsibility.
    Altogether an impressive list and if attained will give us a New New Zealand.

    All I can remember from Mr Shearers speech was a determination to introduce Capital Gains Tax.

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  20. excusesofpuppets (134 comments) says:

    Crime and Justice the same thing? Or is it because they are linked they should be treated in the same way? You know the concept of prosecution AND defense I am assuming.

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  21. V (668 comments) says:

    All I have to say is ‘There is nothing new under the Sun”.

    So we get a new super govt dept, and then 5,6,7,8 years down the track under a new govt, someone will say ‘you know what we need a seperate ministry for economic development’. And so a new dept is spawned, along with several others, then another govt comes along and says we need to merge these entities for efficiency. And on it goes. All the while govt. gets bigger.

    If only solving the problem was as easy as creating a govt dept named after the problems we intend to fix or things we would like to develop.

    “Economic Development”
    “Science and Technology”
    “Health”
    “Education”
    “Anti-Child Abuse”

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  22. nasska (10,674 comments) says:

    If shuffling bureaucrats around, renaming government departments & giving speeches dripping with buzzwords improved anything we would by now be long term residents of Nirvana.

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  23. wreck1080 (3,730 comments) says:

    “more young children, and particularly Maori and Pacific children, in early childhood education”

    Perhaps 1st priority should be concentrate on keeping their carers from bashing them to death.

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  24. Martin Gibson (227 comments) says:

    Why do we still have a Ministry of Women’s Affairs?
    There’s $6m you could save right there.
    Whenever the MWA say anything it is generally about wage imbalances; want to know why they’re there?
    Survey women to ask them: A. Whether they would like a partner who earned $30,000PA more than them and; B. Whether they would like a partner who earned less than them.
    Do the same survey with men and the gender pay gap is explained.
    You can’t socially engineer away biology, and those arts degrees don’t make as much as engineering and computers, even if they are more enjoyable.

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  25. freddos (54 comments) says:

    Not enough cuts; we need to strip back to core government services only. $15 billion deficits are unsustainable.

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  26. V (668 comments) says:

    @MG

    Exactly. Colour me cynical but I just can’t see 50% of woman desiring to be plumbers anytime soon. Not that they can’t be, just that generally they choose not to.

    From MWA website:

    Our coming work programme focuses on activities to improve outcomes for women, which also have positive benefits for the economy and wider society.
    41.5 percent of people on state sector boards and committees are women.
    9.3 percent of directors on the NZX top 100 listed companies are women. 57 percent of NZX top 100 companies have no women directors.
    By international standards women aged 30 to 34 have a low labour force participation rate. We are 24th in the OECD for this age group.
    One percent of plumbers, builders and electricians are women.
    New Zealand is ranked 5th out of 134 counties in the Global Gender Gap Report 2010.
    One in three women has experienced violence by a partner in their lifetime.
    New Zealand’s pay gap between men and women is the third lowest in the OECD.

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  27. Mark (1,362 comments) says:

    it is pleasing to see the work going in here but it is still a bit of the shifting of the deck chairs albeit removing a few. National’s economic vision remains elusive at this point.

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  28. rouppe (916 comments) says:

    For example, the Minister of Education has told me that for result number five she has set a target of 85 per cent of 18-year-olds having NCEA level 2 or equivalent in five years.

    But no interest in the quality of the achievement. NCEA Level 2 is:

    NCEA Level 2 – 60 credits at Level 2 or above, plus 20 credits from Level 1 or above.

    So you could achieve this with basket weaving and hip-hop, while getting rubbish results for reading, writing and numeracy

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  29. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    rouppe – generally speaking we fund tertiary educations based on maximising to-be-educated bums on seats, rather than which job-vacancy seats are empty. Structural reform could be to have, say, half the tertiary education funding directly linked to employer preferences for more grads with this qual or that qual. the result could end up being more and/or lower cost courses were we need them, and fewer and/or more costly courses where we don’t need them. Employers could apportion a % of their existing tax payable when they filing income their returns.

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  30. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    With apologies to Don MacLean….

    ♪ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♫ ♪

    And they were singin’ ….

    BIE, BIE John’s restructure try,

    Lumped a bevy full of ministries, now the idea jar’s dry

    Them good ‘ol polies toasting this one will fly

    Singin’ this’ll make the PSA cry

    This’ll make the PSA cry

    ♪ ♪ ♫ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♫ ♪

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  31. nasska (10,674 comments) says:

    krazykiwi

    Thank you for that demonstration of your musical talent. You’ll go far but hold on to your day job for the meantime.

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  32. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    nasska – You’re welcome. Hymns next :)

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  33. nasska (10,674 comments) says:

    krazykiwi

    You’re a cruel man.

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  34. adamsmith1922 (888 comments) says:

    My list for elimination:-

    Families Commission
    Maori Affairs
    Womens Affairs
    Pacific Affairs
    Racing
    America’s Cup
    Sports Ministry

    Amalgamation for starters

    Justice + Corrections + Police + Internal Affairs+ Immigration

    Race and gender based agencies are divisive and send totally the wrong message

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  35. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    A small tutorial for surplus to requirement civil servants: :)

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  36. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    Another reason why civil servants should never be reduced: :)

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  37. orewa1 (428 comments) says:

    Don’t civil servants have KPIs like this as a matter of routine? The private sector certainly does. It seems strange that it takes a major Prime Ministerial speech to suddenly impose targets that I would have thought have always been at the centre of public service acountability.

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  38. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    orewa1 – the problem is risk aversion. One FTE at a time, the entire public sector is paralized by the very thought of possible consequences of doing anything different, doing anything innovative…. if there’s the slightest risk of it not coming off. Taking a risk is punished, while doing something good is pounced on my superiors as evidence of their valuable management. 

    All this has bred multi-layered organisational structures filled with people watching their backs, and spending 20-80% of their energy doing this. Fat, fat, fat. But not to worry, the deck chairs have been nicely re-arranged.

    Is there evidence of this belief being completely unfounded. Sure, but it’s rare. Very rare. I’ve spent 20 years consulting to the public sector. The indepititude and arse covering is breathtaking… and costly for you and I. It’s also depressing for the many excellent people who work in this sector… if only briefly.

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  39. awb (301 comments) says:

    So at the end of the day, both Key and Shearer were proposing business as usual? Hardly seems worthy of a media circus, let alone a blog circus.

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  40. Johnboy (14,998 comments) says:

    When have Politicians ever proposed anything else other than business as usual awb?

    Last time I can think of is when when Mao said “Hey guys, lets get a bit of culture into our revolution!”

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  41. mikenmild (10,720 comments) says:

    An oversold piece of tripe. Nice-sounding targets that will turn out to be meaningless or merely goal displacing. Some pointless restructuring of agencies in line with the latest fads. All in the same week when Key bleated that interest couldn’t be charged on student loans because, gasp, some voters might not like it.

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  42. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    Adam
    You left out Ethnic Affairs..also police ethnic liason officers ,tho these last ones seem to be getting busier in CHCH
    Another obvious money saver..can all the psychologists who write reports for the parole board..The board ignores there findings…Sack the bird on the police line who tells you when you ring re a dangerous driver..”there is nothing we can do.” There could be a taped message saying same..Similarily replace all the high paid Wellingtonians whose opening line is always…Have you seen our website?” No , you god forsaken cow that is why I am ring you !

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  43. lastmanstanding (1,204 comments) says:

    Katrina Bach is Steves first choice for CEO of the new ministry. Steve likes Katrinas people management style. Sorta fits with his own

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  44. orewa1 (428 comments) says:

    “…the problem is risk aversion. One FTE at a time, the entire public sector is paralized by the very thought of possible consequences of doing anything different, doing anything innovative…. if there’s the slightest risk of it not coming off. Taking a risk is punished, while doing something good is pounced on my superiors as evidence of their valuable management.”

    Spot on, Mikenmild! But for “my superiors” read “Ministers.” Bureaucrats shoulder blame, Ministers get credit.

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  45. rakuraku (162 comments) says:

    Same BS just in a different package, it’s a bit like rearranging the shoes at the front door.

    I hope John Key and Bill English have KPI’s to work to and are held accountable.

    The SCF (South Canterbury Finance) debacle needs heads to roll. Treasury were asleep at the wheel, English & Bollard need to be held accountable.

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  46. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    How much more Crosby Textor can the nation take? Key’s speech? really?

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  47. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    orewa1 – check the attribution of praise ;)

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