Official back in cabinet committees

Just noticed this in a speech by John Key:

As Prime Minister, the most difficult, hard-to-tackle issues of public policy inevitably end up passing across my desk.

In working through those issues, I rely heavily on the advice and judgement of public servants.

It’s crucial that ministers know all the sides of a particular issue, have all the relevant information and fully understand the implications of different courses of action.

Since becoming Prime Minister in late 2008, I’ve been impressed by the professionalism and competence of public servants in my own departments and across the public sector as a whole.

The approach of my Government has been to respect people’s professional skills and to back public servants who want to get on and make New Zealand a better place.

As just one small example, we have reintroduced the practice of having officials regularly attend Cabinet committee meetings.

That’s for two reasons.

We want to get advice from the people who have the greatest knowledge of particular issues.

And we actually think it’s good for officials to see where ministers agree and disagree, what they feel comfortable with and what drives their consideration of a particular issue.

If I recall Labour kicked officials out a few years ago, as they didn’t want to have “political” discussions with them in the room. I think it is a good thing the Government trusts officials enough that Ministers can disagree in front of them.

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