Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Welfare Working Group appointed to run WINZ

The Welfare Working Group was one of the more blatant displays of ideology in recent political history, with a pack of hand-picked cronies (including the ever-present Catherine Isaac) producing highly ideological policy prescriptions. The only good thing about it was that it was temporary. Except now a pack of them have been appointed to oversee MSD and "guide" its welfare "reforms":

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett today announced the new Work and Income board members to oversee the investment approach to welfare.

This new approach will be embedded at all levels of the welfare system and the Board will be responsible for ensuring accountability and overseeing the delivery of reforms that will see fewer people on welfare for long periods

“Paula Rebstock will chair the Board with five other members from outside the public service with a wide range of relevant experience and expertise.”

Those other members include Kathryn McPherson, another member of the Welfare Working Group, plus the usual assortment of business cronies. All of whom will receive generous daily fees for the task of "advis[ing] and support[ing] the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Social Development in the implementation of welfare reforms" and reporting back to the Minister (as well as the Ministers of Finance and State Services) on MSD's performance. Of course, Paula Bennett is already paid $257,000 a year to do those things, but I guess she didn't want to dirty her hands with the actual work.

but apart from demonstrating expensive Ministerial laziness, this is another example of National's construction of a parallel public service staffed with cronies. Our professional public servants have a bad habit of looking at evidence, rather than just reading Hayek or asking Michael Laws. These boards allow the public service to be bypassed, and policies imposed without the usual checks and balances. The result will be worse policy: more unforeseen outcomes, more mistakes. But National doesn't care: they get to silence those annoying public servants, and provide jobs for the boys at the same time.