Throwing boulders in glasshouses

August 13th, 2013 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Labour believes are looking for better options.

Figures released under the Official Information Act shows 150 ministerial staff have left since National came to power, 47 of them went last year

Labour Leader isn’t surprised at the turnover and believes the departures are about self interest and self preservation.

” A number of people that I’ve spoken to have said that they felt it was time to get out before this government came to an end – I think a lot of people are looking after their own careers and getting out while they’ve got the chance to get out.”

You know. If I was advising the Leader of the Opposition, who was onto his third chief of staff in 18 months, I’d suggest he doesn’t comment on a story about staffing.

I’d also suggest that trying to claim credit for Ministerial staff leaving because they are despondent over the Government’s chances would open you up for ridicule when you are at barely 30% in the polls and the Government is at 49%.

Finally I’d also point out the story is meaningless without knowing how many staff in total work in ministerial offices.

As it happens it is around 275, so 150 staff leaving over four and a half years is around 33 staff a year.  That’s around a 12% annual loss rate. I’d say that is lower than many employers. Also considering working in a ministerial office is often a 50 – 60 hour a week job with huge stress and less pay than comparable private sector jobs – well a 12% annual loss rate is actually quite remarkable.

I survived a total of eight years in Parliament, and I was one of the longer serving staff.

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31 Responses to “Throwing boulders in glasshouses”

  1. rouppe (945 comments) says:

    I think a lot of people are looking after their own careers and getting out while they’ve got the chance to get out.

    Doesn’t that mean no one wants to work for a Labour government?

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  2. martinh (1,164 comments) says:

    Probably was the helen clark rot that was left

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  3. Viking2 (11,282 comments) says:

    And if this lot of Nazi’s continue to impose law upon the electorate as they propose than their will be a lot more leave.

    Viking2 on General Debate 12 August 2013

    So now we are seeing the true colours of the National Party.

    Rush to pass almost forgotten legislation to enable fast, effective investigation into contamination incident.

    Not content with imposing a plethoria of spy laws upon us they have now found a reason to resurrect a proposed bill that has languished in the background for the last FIVE years.

    No discussion with the public, just like the rest of their bad law, and actually no reason at all to be pocking thier fucking big noses into private company business.

    I note that the Govt. doesn’t own 1 cent of Fonterra yet it considers it should usurp the role of the Company Directors.

    When are you cow farmers going to tell this bunch of control freaks , to mind their own business or get booted out.

    Next they will be grabbing your farms for the entitled brown skins.

    Fonterra will conduct two internal inquiries into the incident, and the Ministry of Primary Industries yesterday gave details of its own probe into the way the problem was handled

    The Government plans to FORCE a largely forgotten five-year-old bill through Parliament in three weeks to allow a short, sharp “Government inquiry” into the Fonterra botulism scare.

    The move to expedite a Government investigation into the food safety scare comes hard on the heels of three other investigations into the incident which Fonterra says could cost New Zealand tens of millions of dollars in lost export earnings.

    The Inquiries Bill, introduced by Labour in 2008 , gives ministerial-level inquiries new powers to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath but has been left on Parliament’s Order Paper for years.

    But Prime Minister John Key yesterday said it would be passed, possibly within three weeks and under urgency, to allow a fast, effective investigation into how botulism-causing bacteria got into Fonterra whey concentrate which was then used to produce infant formula.

    Mr Key had yesterday been expected to announce plans for either a ministerial inquiry or a commission of inquiry into the incident.

    But he said a ministerial inquiry lacked the power to force witnesses to give evidence, and a commission of inquiry would take too long.

    What a fucking disgrace this outfit are.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news
    /article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10911624

    And by the way all relevant to the topic of public servants quiting.

    [DPF: 20 demerits for Nazis]

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  4. martinh (1,164 comments) says:

    Demerit them too for an off topic waste of space, then delete them

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  5. Positan (385 comments) says:

    “And if this lot of Nazi’s … ”

    How about hitting up some more demerits for the blatantly incompetent use of an apostrophe?

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  6. Auberon (873 comments) says:

    Talk about grasping at straws!

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  7. shoreboy57 (137 comments) says:

    Why does Labour waste time on “issues” that voters don’t care about? Put down the Chardy and go and talk to some real NZers rather than media flunkies. Then there might be the chance of some interesting politics.

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  8. peterwn (3,215 comments) says:

    The other thing is some staff will quit as part of their career planning. They may have chosen to spend several years in a Minister’s office to gain experience, contacts etc then move on to something else. Conversely they could wish to spend several years ‘outside’ before returning in a senior role or even a MP. Frankly if a staffer has been around some years and has had little outside experience he or she should be advised to look for something else. If they cannot fairly readily find a job or make an opportunity on the ‘outside’ it begs the question of how they got employed as a Ministerial staffer (for a National minister) to start with.

    This is a big strength that National has over Labour / Greens. A career path of student politics, non-jobs in unions etc, parliamentary staffer then MP cannot do the party or NZ much good.

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  9. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    you are at barely 30% in the polls and the Government is at 49%.

    I’m surprised this comment would come from you. You seem to be stuck in the past with First Past The Post thinking.

    Just about all the pundits are saying the election is likely to be a close result.

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  10. David Garrett (6,786 comments) says:

    Positan: Well said Sir! That blatant apostrophe abuse has got to merit a suspension at the very least…

    It’s (that’s short for “it is” Viking) almost unbelieveable isn’t it? I am not the close student of NZ politics that our host is, but I don’t (that’s short for “do not”) think I have ever seen such ineptitude….I am no conspiracy theorist, but it really is as if someone is deliberately giving him bad advice…

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  11. RightNow (6,844 comments) says:

    Shearer says: ” A number of people that I’ve spoken to…”

    Well I doubt that anyone except Labour faithful are going to be having these chats with Shearer, so it’s a very self-selecting sample. I think the rest of his comment is just lies though (and probably some bitterness from the disaffected lefties). As pointed out by Rouppe, it would actually mean they don’t want to stick around and work for a Labour government.

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  12. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Well said Sir!

    That would be ‘Well said, Sir’. :)

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  13. Nostalgia-NZ (5,045 comments) says:

    It seems Mr Shearer was issued the wrong cruise liner tickets and isn’t aware that it is he on the Titanic.

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  14. Alan (1,082 comments) says:

    The 49% v 30% is part of a consistent narrative from some people to portray National as cruising towards reelection when the truth is that the election is on a knife edge, the present administration only has a 1 seat effective majority.

    12% turnover feels high, but I I’m not sure what’s average. What would have been meaningful would have been a comparison with the stats for the past 9 years.

    However, the screamingly important questions we should ask from this is why does Labour think anyone gives a crap about it? It’s a total non issue, Labour should be out talking about health, economy, housing, wages, cost of living. They should be relentless on their core topics. This is just shit..

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  15. Judith (8,460 comments) says:

    So derogatory names receive demerit points – wow, there are a whole heap of people due demerit points for using the same word for Ms Clark, or is that different?

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  16. berend (1,676 comments) says:

    DPF: That’s around a 12% annual loss rate. I’d say that is lower than many employers.

    I really doubt that.

    DPF: Also considering working in a ministerial office is often a 50 – 60 hour a week job with huge stress and less pay than comparable private sector jobs

    And that’s definitely not true. The best paying jobs are working for the government.

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  17. kiwi in america (2,477 comments) says:

    Likely the ministerial staff turnover (with the possible exception of Parata’s office) would comprise a mix of staff at all levels and mostly at the mid/lower level and, as David points out, would comprise a relatively modest percentage of total staff employed. Turnover in Shearer’s office has been at the Chief of Staff level i.e. the lynchpin to the operation of his whole office. Below that he’s lost media advisors as well – also key to a successfully functioning LOO office. Part of the failure of Shearer to breakthrough as LOO has been the dysfunction in his office. Finally the raw percentage of staff leaving Shearer’s office likely exceeds the percentage of resignations at DPMC.

    It will be fun to see any National minister’s answer to a Parliamentary Question from Shearer on this.

    [DPF: As it so happens, the turnover in Parata's office is around the mid-point of most offices]

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  18. Alan (1,082 comments) says:

    ” And that’s definitely not true. The best paying jobs are working for the government.”

    Really, not true. Not even close. Private sector wages at the top end are much better.

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  19. Batman (103 comments) says:

    Aside from the whole issue of why Labour thinks anyone gives a flying fuck about this, as has been pointed out above, one does need some perspective on the unqiue nature of ministerial offices.

    this number that Labour will have got will be from asking written questions on how many ministerial staff have left etc etc. This number will INCLUDE the various portfolio private secretaries who are seconded from ministries for a defined period of time, usually around 12 months, but sometimes 18 months in rare cases. So over the course of a year, a ministerial office could expect to have half of its staff renewed through the rotation of Private Secs.

    I would also expect that this number includes those who have moved into other roles in the precinct i.e. moving from ministerial services to parliamentary service in the leaders office etc etc.

    So really, David Shearer and Labour are just making shit up, and they damn well know it, being the experts at staff turnover that they are! the number of people coming and going from Shearer’s office / the Labour research team is quite impressive!

    EDIT: Berend says “The best paying jobs are working for the government”

    this is definitely not true, if you want a sweet paying job with proper lunch breaks and a decent work-life balance, you DO NOT go and work for a minister. departmental jobs are different, in that they are paid averagely but have a fantastically laid back lifestyle attached to them.

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  20. kiwi in america (2,477 comments) says:

    Berend
    Working for a normal government department is an entirely different kettle of fish to working for cabinet ministers, a LOO or any MP for that matter. Having been on the inside of the operation of a LOO office, there is no such thing as glide time and civil service hours. You are at the beck and call of the politician for whom you are working – that means early starts, very late nights, quite a bit of travel, dealing in very stressful situations and very tight deadlines pretty much every day. Combine that with employment contracts that not only expire at each election but allow your political boss to terminate you for irreconcilable differences at will, it is no wonder so many seek higher pay and less stress for jobs in the private sector or perhaps in the normal civil service. 12% under these circumstances is quite low. The stress (and thus the turnover) is the same regardless of which party is in government so for Shearer to try to make political mileage out of a routine situation illustrates how desperate he is to land any hit on Key and National however spurious.

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  21. Cunningham (829 comments) says:

    Haha the arrogance of this guy. Nice guy Shearer….yeah right!

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  22. David Garrett (6,786 comments) says:

    alan: Well said. If only a third term Nat led government WAS a cruise-in certainty…I certainly don’t think that.

    berend: Unless I am confusing you with someone else, I believe you usually make more sensible comments. Do you know what senior execs in Fonterra or Air New Zealand or Telecome get? Whether it is justified or not is quite another matter…Recent events with Fonterra would suggest that someone there is grossly overpaid….

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  23. Michael (899 comments) says:

    If this is the sort of poo that Shearer is advised to be selling, I wouldn’t be surprised to see if CoS 4 will be appointed soon.

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  24. kiwi in america (2,477 comments) says:

    David thanks for clarification of the turnover in Parata’s office – I wondered if the media were over hyping her staff situation somewhat.

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  25. Viking2 (11,282 comments) says:

    [DPF: 20 demerits for Nazis]

    Is KB joining the current fad to Censorship?

    Sad really.

    Would it be better if I used Third Reich or Storm Troopers or Hitler.

    Astonishing given some of the language others use.

    Nazi’s of course imposed exactly the same type of law on Germany and Poland and the Jews.

    i.e you no longer have any right to remain silent. If you don’t answer we will send you to the Gas Chamber.

    No wonder good public Servants quit.
    Only the psychopaths will remain.

    Even those bothered about my apostrophes will get sent. ( Please note; I wrote that in a hurry before I rushed out to work. Work earning dollars to prop up those in the bureaucracy that impose this crap on others.) What did you do and don’t you value your freedom as a Kiwi?

    The fact that Public Servants keep quitting seems to me like a darn good thing as long as we stop replacing them.

    And I repeat Fontera is a private Company yet to be given to the Govt. to control although it seems those self same Public Servants would just love to get their greedy fingers into the management etc.

    And I don’t have 1 cent invested in dairy either.

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  26. PaulL (5,983 comments) says:

    What I don’t get is why governments of both hue think that it’s OK to treat staff in Ministerial offices like this (referring to the comments from KIA and others). I’m guessing it’s classic supply and demand – there is a limitless supply of eager young things who want to change the world and are happy to put up with the treatment that goes with it. The problem is that when you’re getting your advice from eager young things with no life experience you can get into real trouble – see Julia Gillard for an example of that.

    Perhaps it is time to focus on getting some real talent and perhaps structure into the way some of these offices operate?

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  27. Viking2 (11,282 comments) says:

    The problem is that when you’re getting your advice from eager young things with no life experience you can get into real trouble

    Yep.
    Paula Bennet recently rejected applicants for her office on that basis and issued instructions to SSC to send someone who had some experience and not necessarily a Degree.

    That was achieved although loss to another Dept.

    Better advice all round.

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  28. Paulus (2,565 comments) says:

    Opinion polls show percentages “as if” under a FPP system – they have little real bearing under MMP which distorts any real election.

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  29. kiwi in america (2,477 comments) says:

    PaulL
    In my experience “eager young things” were in a minority. Cabinet Ministers, a good LOO and the top MPs attract mostly first rate talent despite the hours and pressure – there is something almost intoxicating being at the vortex of power that keeps those inside the Beehive and Parliament hooked almost like a drug. Being on the inside track of policy making, legislation, political intrigue and gossip, shaping media perceptions and being at the heart of spin doctoring – they are work experiences not available anywhere outside the Wellington political beltway. Good Ministers and MPs mix the intense politically active young up and comers with the hard headed realists with longer and wider world experience.

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  30. Concerned (41 comments) says:

    Has anyone just watched John Campbell??? The most shockingly biased political advert/documentary/’poll’ in the history of New Zealand television.

    Hard to think of anything ever in the MSM so intellectually dishonest and one-sided.

    To the barricades!!

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  31. Concerned (41 comments) says:

    Re GCSB:

    Has anyone just watched John Campbell??? The most shockingly biased political advert/documentary/’poll’ in the history of New Zealand television.

    Hard to think of anything ever in the MSM so intellectually dishonest and one-sided.

    To the barricades!!

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