The first broken promise from the Sub-Prime Minister

This is meant to be the “honeymoon” period, where everyone loves John Key and his new Government, and gives them a chance.

But, sorry, I just can’t go there. Because, before the Governemnt is even formed, Key has indicated he will break one very significant election promise. Take a look at this:

National Party election policy:

Cap the size of the core bureaucracy in the first term of government, and ensure that priority is given to delivering frontline services that directly benefit New Zealanders.

Now, the current number of people employed in the central government public service is 39,400.

Now, post-election, John Key states this:

Incoming Prime Minister John Key says departmental chief executives will be asked to carry out spending reviews; he expects savings of at least $500 million over three years.

National won’t say what departments will be affected, but it wants to reduce the number of bureaucrats to about 36,000.

Now, that looks like 3,400 loyal and honest public servants who have done nothing wrong losing their jobs!

Key now reveals this is not a “cap” on public service employment (as the policy suggested), it is a cut – and a rather substantial one – 3,400 jobs down the drain.

Now, I would have thought that any sensible government would support retaining public sector employment levels at a time when there are likely to be redundancies in the private sector consequent on the “sub-prime” lending scandal.

As Steve Pierson says at The Standard:

In other words, National could prevent this debt blow out by cancelling its tax cuts for the rich. It won’t do so, of course. National should make the creation of useful jobs a priority, as Labour intended to do to keep benefit numbers and crime down, and income and tax revenue up. But it won’t do that, either.

But I guess that’s not the case when you are the Sub-Prime Minister. You look after your wealthy mates, and honest, hardworking public servants can join the dole queue.

Because, fundamentally, these guys like having unemployment high to support their wealthy mates by keeping wages low.

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5 thoughts on “The first broken promise from the Sub-Prime Minister

  1. Not. Good.

    Between this and his “subtle” hintings for Allan Bollard to lower the interest rate, it looks like John Key is trying to stifle potential opposition from the civil sector.

  2. No. first this is not a National govenment, it’s a National/ACT government.

    Second, much more than this small promise, Key mad a big one: to fix once and for all the profligate and corrupt spending by Labour. This is just a start – there will be very many more cuts to come.

    I understand the National/ACT agreement is to get civil service numbers down to 1999 levels – say 20,000 by 2011. they will do it and in this envrionment it is absolutely necessary to do so,

    hardworking taxpaying kiwis simply don’ want to pay for you any more

  3. Second, much more than this small promise, Key mad a big one: to fix once and for all the profligate and corrupt spending by Labour. This is just a start – there will be very many more cuts to come.

    He said explicitly that this could and should be done without cuts to public service staffing, just redistribution and attrition.

    If he didn’t mean that, he shouldn’t have defended that position so insistently.

    I should point out two misconceptions you seem to be operating under, too:

    1) Tax cuts are spending too and should be judged on their direct impact. They’re not a neutral proposition that can just be ignored. Cutting other types of spending to expand tax cuts is not “cutting spending”. It’s cutting taxes.

    2) John Key talked about waste, not spending. He thinks he can apparently do things more efficiently. That means he has to not cut public programs. Besides, cutting spending is grossly inconsistent with his insistence that Labour’s surpluses were wasted.

    hardworking taxpaying kiwis simply don’ want to pay for you any more

    That’s funny, because I thought “hardworking tax-paying kiwis” including quite a lot of the civil service. 😛

  4. I think the real question is what is to be used as the authoritative source of public service headcount?
    Key stated he had taken his original figures from the QES published by the dept of stats (approx 36,000). SSC figures stated approx 46,000. Both of these are different from your quoted 39,400.
    In his defence he has stated that whatever source he uses as his starting point will be the same source he uses to measure against from then on.

  5. I was working on full-time equivalents, based on StatisticsNZ info.

    I think the 46,000 SSC figure is the total number of staff – some of whom might be working only 10 or 15 hours a week.

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