It is clear the Government can’t make up its mind about targets.
It’s good for child poverty reduction to have an overall target and short-term targets, so much so that it is now a statutory requirement to set targets.
It is not a good idea to set a target for child immunisations.
It is a good idea to set a target for the reduction of road deaths over 10 years.
It is not good to have targets to reduce the rate of suicide because that could be interpreted as a tolerance for any suicide.
It is not a good idea to set a target to lift NCEA results but it is a good idea to set a target date to reduce the prison muster.
It was not a good idea, in hindsight, to promise 100,000 Kiwibuild houses over 10 years, even though the problem was with the short-term targets.
But it is a good idea, apparently, to deal with the Kiwibuild nightmare by ditching every target that might not be met and say, as Housing Minister Megan Woods did repeatedly: “We will build as many as we can as quickly as we can.”
It is not a line that would be acceptable in many other policy areas.
Imagine the farmers saying: “We will lower methane emissions as much as we can, as quickly as we can.”
They really are all over the place.
I personally like targets. They are a form of accountability, and also an important tool for focusing the work of Government on.
You can have too many targets. The Clark Labour Government had around 45 different health targets and they were fairly meaningless. National pared them back to half a dozen and huge improvements were made.
But this Government seems to be allergic to any form of targets, unless it is targets for other people.