[Sitting date: 26 June 2012. Volume:681;Page:3271. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]
JOHN HAYES (National—Wairarapa) to the
Minister of Finance: What steps is the Government taking to get better results and value for money from the public service?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance)
: The Government is determined to continue to provide a high-level, if not better, Public Service with less resource, so we have set ambitious targets across 10 results, which were announced yesterday. The
targets focus on difficult issues like reducing crime, reducing long-term welfare dependency, and reducing educational underachievement. Progress will be reported regularly as data becomes available, so New Zealanders can see how we are tracking.
John Hayes: Why is getting better results important?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: As we have worked through, in tougher times, Government spending, it has become clear that the previous Government liked to demonstrate that it cared by getting more money. We are going to show that we care—and we are showing that we care—by getting actual results. We have been shifting the Public Service culture in this direction. Keeping one more teenager on the rails is actually the lowest-cost result that we can get, so it is a better Public Service, and we save money.
Hon David Parker: Does his target for benefit numbers mean that the number of people on working-age benefits in 2017, if he achieves his target, will be 20,000 higher than when he took office 9 years earlier, if New Zealand is unlucky enough to still have him in power?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: And it is only the residents of “Planet Labour” who overlook the fact that there was a global recession along the way.
Hon David Parker: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister did not address my question as to whether my figure was correct.
Mr SPEAKER: Well, if the member wanted his question answered he should not have put the last bit on the question. I am afraid that he gave the Minister a let off the hook that way.
John Hayes: How will the Government and the Public Service go about achieving better results?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the first place, by focusing on making a difference, rather than just getting more money, which has been the culture up to 2009. Secondly, by working more closely together among departments. But, thirdly, by looking around the wider community to see who can help us with getting higher levels of educational achievement or less offending in prison. Under the National-led Government the Public Service is not so arrogant that it believes everything has to be run by the Public Service.
Rt Hon John Key: Has he seen any reports that the Government’s attempt to quantify 14 different outcomes is “pretty meaningless stuff”, and does he think it is pretty meaningless stuff to be tackling rheumatic fever, abuse of children, and better education for New Zealanders—is that pretty meaningless stuff?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I saw a report—well, I heard a report that I did not initially believe, actually, because it was a quote from some chap called Chris Hipkins from the Labour Party, who said of these result areas—better educational achievement, less crime, and fewer vulnerable children—“It’s actually pretty meaningless stuff.” And on “Planet Labour”, I think it is.