Thursday, April 26, 2018

A terrible idea

Shane Jones wants to politicise the public service:

Cabinet Minister Shane Jones, says he would like to "soften that line" between governance and the bureaucracy, including allowing ministers to appoint top officials.

In an interview on the provincial growth fund Jones, the Regional Development Minister railed against a bureaucratic system he characterised as a "treacle-riddled", slowing down process around funding economic projects, without evidence of improved efficiency.

"I'm looking forward to fighting an election to change the way that politicians relate to the bureaucracy," Jones said.

"I know we have this separation of governance and the bureaucracy, but I'm really attracted to the idea where the Aussies have softened that line, and key ministers bring in their s...-kickers to get things done. That's always been my preference."

Jones is pushing this as a way to "get things done" and lessen bureaucracy. What it actually means is providing Ministers with a way to stack the upper echelons of the public service with cronies, who will then in turn politicise the hiring process lower down, resulting in a politicised public service like they have in America. It will also lessen the quality of advice given to Ministers, replacing the free, frank and fairless advice of professional public servants with the groupthink of party hacks. And that in turn will lead to mistakes in policy implementation. We've seen enough of those already (see the endless stream of stories about underfunding and infrastructure deficits from National, or about Christchurch). This will make it worse. And for what? So Ministers like Jones can feel like they're adequately in charge? Personally, I'd prefer if the Minister for Pornography didn't take out his domination fetish on the country, thankyouverymuch.

This is a terrible idea, and hopefully Chris Hipkins, the Minister for State services, will bury it.