Ralston on public service

Bill Ralston makes easy work of the PSA and Labour:

Erect a stake, pile wood around it as a pyre, tie Treasury Head John Whitehead to it and throw in a match.

The man has committed heresy. He said the public service needed to rethink its approach, trim its fat, move out of its comfort zone and generally get its act together or someone else will come and do it.

Shocking. Dreadful. Appalling.

Next he’ll be advocating that the world is not flat and that the Earth revolves around the sun.

The reactions to that sensible speech were so predictably knee-jerk mid-numbingly stupid.

Of course.

“The groundwork is being laid here for privatisation and further deeper job cuts”, says Labour’s State Services spokesman Grant Robertson.

No it isn’t. Whitehead talked of contracting out some services if it made sense. If a department could get say cheaper legal or accounting services from the private sector, why wouldn’t it look at that option rather than retain or expand its in-house services?


The PSA’s Brenda Pilott chimes in, “We’re amazed Mr Whitehead says we should be privatising public services when bad management in the private sector has created the worst global recession since the Great Depression.”

If this is the PSA’s grasp of economics and world finance then God help its members.

Ms Pilott might be interested to know the recession arose out of the credit crunch brought on by the failure of the US subprime mortgage market. Basically a relatively small group of bankers went greedily mad in a largely unregulated market.

To condemn the entire private sector for the failure of one small part of the capitalist system is nuts.

So primary producers, manufacturers, the services sector and any other part of the private sector nationally and internationally must all beat the blame for the recession?

Would we condemn the entire public service because of the single failure of, say, the Corrections Department? Tempting but unfair.

A good example of the stupidity of those who rant against the private sector and think this means all of capitalism has failed.

A horrified Grant Robertson claimed it signalled the resurgence of Treasury’s influence over the public sector.

Hang on. “Resurgence of Treasury’s influence?” Hadn’t his previous Labour government somehow banished Treasury to a corner where it could not exercise any influence over the financial performance of the public service?


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