Island Life by David Slack

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Island Life: Just Say No

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    I contend it would be hard to separate my professionalism from my intimate's influence from the other pillow.

    And if you said that to me in a job interview for anything, I'd thank you for your time and promptly shred your cv. And from the other side of the table, I'd strongly urge you to keep that insight to yourself - especially if we were seriously trying to attract a more diverse workforce that single young men who've barely had time for the ink to dry on their
    most recent qualification. It's a simple demographic reality that youth and a penis aren't quite the competitive advantage they used to be - and I'd respectfully suggest it's not only crass and patronising, but bad professional judgement, to define any woman's "professionalism" by her husband /partner/CUPcake etc.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Che Tibby,

    we would do well to have a layer of a few hundred people on "single parliament" contracts.

    i'm a only a reader in this debate, but need a clarification.

    rich, are you suggesting political appointments over merit-based ones?

    and to which party should they be affiliated? the largest government party, or all the parties in current governmental coalition?

    and to whom are they accountable?

    the back of an envelope • Since Nov 2006 • 2042 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    We already have such people. They're called MPs

    As I say, 49 of them on the government side. Including first-termers and those on the way out. Against how many "policy-level" public servants? A thousand?

    Che, I'm not suggesting that the vast majority of delivery-side public servants should be politically appointed.

    What I am suggesting is that a government is elected with a set of policies and is entitled to use the public service to implement those policies. For instance, if the government was elected to implement social market economics, it isn't really helpful to have a large proportion of Treasury public servants committed to unfettered capitalism. (Equally, if a National government wants to wreck NCEA, they shouldn't have to work with an education department stubbornly opposed to this).

    are you suggesting political appointments over merit-based ones?
    I'm suggesting these appointments would be mostly additional to the career public service.

    and to which party should they be affiliated? the largest government party, or all the parties in current governmental coalition?
    I'd suggest that they might not be actual party members. It might be part of a C&S agreement that a support party gets to nominate a certain number of advisers.

    and to whom are they accountable?
    Parliament (through the minister), the courts and ultimately the electorate.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    What I am suggesting is that a government is elected with a set of policies and is entitled to use the public service to implement those policies.

    And they do. One of the benefits of a politically neutral public service is that they faithfully serve the government of the day and implement their policies, regardless of which party holds power.

    Some departments do have ideological positions on what sort of policies are best. But at the end of the day, it is their job to knuckle under to the Minister and do as they are told. And they do. Despite the scaremongering (and I know Labour was concerned about Treasury when they were elected in 1999), our public service understands that its role is to serve (or at least not be seen to be leading :)

    The system works so well primarily because the SSC has spent a huge amount of effort preserving proper public service values against the changes of the 1990's. I'd rather not see it undermined.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    One of the benefits of a politically neutral public service is that they faithfully serve the government of the day...

    Which, to get really nuts, might include a civil servant playing the devil's advocate or proffering some free and frank advice the Minister of the day doesn't really want to listen to (and is free to ignore anyway). Don't know about you, Rich, but I've often found that's the best advice of all.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Idiot Savant wrote:

    Some departments do have ideological positions on what sort of policies are best. But at the end of the day, it is their job to knuckle under to the Minister and do as they are told. And they do. Despite the scaremongering (and I know Labour was concerned about Treasury when they were elected in 1999), our public service understands that its role is to serve (or at least not be seen to be leading :)

    The system works so well primarily because the SSC has spent a huge amount of effort preserving proper public service values against the changes of the 1990's. I'd rather not see it undermined.

    Hear bloody hear!

    It seems to me that as well as other more ethical advantages, democracy has a number of utilitarian strengths, one of which is the right to tell those in power things they do not want to hear. This applies not only in public debate but to private advice from a neutral public service.

    That is important on top of the concerns a politically neutral public service was aimed at changing - corruption and incompetence.

    Ministers get plenty of advice they don't necessarily like. I've got filing drawers full of stuff I have OIA'ed out of the Treasury and a great deal of it is advice to Cullen he might not have liked.

    Some of it, he followed, some he didn't (and on a couple of papers there are comments where he has argued back). But you get better outcomes, (no, not perfect ones) from this sort of thing than you do from political hacks, who will only say what ministers want to hear and will in any case be much less competent because they are appointed for political reasons, rather than due to their ability.

    And aren't partners of people involved in the political process allowed their own lives? I did a story four years ago after talking to a senior partner at one of our biggest law firms: she was highly critical of the then RMA amendment bill. Turned out she was Cunliffe's other half.

    I didn't put that in the story, simply because I believed the criticisms should have stood on their own merits, and also because I feel politicians families are entitled to their own lives, and that they get enough shit anyway.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Succinct and damning excoriation of Benson-Pope by Audrey Young here.

    For all the good you are doing etc, go.

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    I listened to today's exchange live on the radio. What's intriguing is that B-P volunteered the "new" information. It wasn't another slip of the tongue.

    Presumably he knows there's more to come from other sources and he'd rather drip-feed it himself. A few days late to switch tactics though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1330 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    David, you gotta say it in the name of God, or the bowels of Christ or something, otherwise it doesn't work.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Presumably he knows there's more to come from other sources and he'd rather drip-feed it himself. A few days late to switch tactics though.

    Oh, it's a dumb tactic period:Brian Edwards (a professional 'media trainer') explains why here (around 15.20 in).

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • David Slack,

    Stephen, quite so. Once more with feeling:

    You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately… Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

    Devonport • Since Nov 2006 • 599 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    I listened to today's exchange live on the radio. What's intriguing is that B-P volunteered the "new" information. It wasn't another slip of the tongue.

    Actually he was told to say it by the PM. She became aware of the comment last night and directed him to be more open in the house today ... hence the comment.

    Ironically it looks like losing him his job

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    David, while we're busy quoting Cromwell, perhaps the Government would care to consider this (from a letter to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1650):

    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

    And try to do it without sulking, snarling or getting all pissy.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Ironically it looks like losing him his job

    I'd respectfully suggest Benson-Pope (and the Prime Minister) might find losing his ministerial warrant a damn sight more agreeable than a lengthy complaint being laid with the Privileges Committee that he stood up at Question Time and lied his arse off. I'd also suggest, quite cynically, that the one mortal political sin is making the PM look like (at best) a dupe, or (at worse) complicit in some rather shabby.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    And with that, he was gone ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And with that, he was gone ...

    Just in time for the lunchtime news bulletins too. Wonder How Hugh Logan and Ian Rennie's presser is going down with the PSA? Got to admit that in Setchell's position, it would go down like the proberbial stein of cold sick listening to Logan saying that he's really sorry about any distress I'm feeling, but I really did deserve to be (effectively) sacked, he'd do it again, and it was really for my own good anyway. Do these people ever listen to themselves?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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