Danya Levy at Stuff reports:
Thousands of jobs have been slashed from the state sector during the past three years, yet more voters believe the standard of public services are better under the National-led Government, a new poll shows.
The Government says that it is evidence cutbacks have not impacted on core services, but the Public Service Association believes only the goodwill of civil servants working extra hours has maintained standards and cracks will start to show.
The problem for Labour and the PSA is that of the boy who cried wolf.
I certainly believe there is a limit to how many jobs can be cut from the public service, without affecting performance. But Labour (and the PSA) in 2008 said even National’s policy of freezing numbers would be a disaster and would impact services. And then as the freeze became a reduction with a need to stop the deficit getting even worse, every single reduction was met with cries of doom and destruction.
And the reality is, that the reductions have in fact led to improved services (as the public acknowledge) because it has freed up resources for the front-line. The health sector especially has had some great improvements in performance in the last couple of years – many more operations, quicker times in ED, shorter waiting times for cancer treatment etc.
As I said, there is a limit to how far cost cutting should go. But an ideological opposition to any reduction in costs or staff numbers in the public service doesn’t help with the decision making.