Bruce Sheppard on the Civil Service

Shareholder activist Bruce Sheppard blogs on the cviil service:

Until quite recently New Zealand could boast an independent civil service that Ministers respected both as to their independence and the quality of advice. It was also a proud and secure service where independence was respected.

Note the until recently.

Politicians also understood that the permanent staffs of various departments should be politically neutral and they also did not interfere in the process of government as executed by the permanent civil services.

In the last nine years under Labour and Helen Clark that has all changed. Political appointments into the civil services are now common, and some have been well documented, the intimidation of the civil service by Ministers is now also well documented and a culture of fear exists in Helengrad.

People think National invented the term. It was someone in the public service, and that is where it is commonly used.

The interference takes the form of removing people not to the government’s liking, appointing people who are and protecting them against all odds. In short Helen’s approach to protecting the undeserving Winston Peters in her cabinet is replicated in the approach to crown employees.

Sounds like a pattern.

Then there is the political appointment of Claire Curran. Direct ministerial interference in that appointment is alleged. Erin Leigh blew the whistle on this and was pilloried by Trevor Mallard in parliament. So much for the Protected Disclosures Act.

Erin Leigh told the truth. For that she got smeared under parliamentary privilege. The target wasn’t even Leigh, but any other civil servant thinking of speaking out.

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