23 November 2012

The adage about good news not selling newspapers may apply with regard to the latest Kiwis Count survey of New Zealanders’ satisfaction with public services. The results have been largely overlooked by the press.  A Google search produces fewer than 30 related hits – half of which are on government websites. But the survey findings are favourable, indicating that satisfaction with the delivery of public services has continued to improve and rates ahead of comparable results in Canada – where the survey was developed.

“…The survey … recorded service quality improving to 74 points out of 100 this quarter, up from 72 points in the last survey.”

“The survey recorded significant improvements for four services: road maintenance by local councils (11 points), obtaining family services or counselling (7 points), registering a birth, marriage, death or civil union (7 points), and enquiring about tax, tax credits, student loan repayments and Kiwisaver (5 points). Increases across 24 services drove the overall increase. No services recorded a significant decrease…”

At a time when papers repeat details about the mismanagement of personal information at several agencies, a comprehensive and statistically reliable survey finding that people are well satisfied with a wide range of public services is apparently not worth reporting. Coverage seems equally poor in the metropolitan and smaller papers.  Radio New Zealand which broadcast a news item when the survey was in train, suggesting that the privacy of respondents may have been breached, doesn’t seem to have given any airtime to the survey findings.

My confusion about the release of this latest information, building data gathered since Kiwis Count began in 2007, meant that my post last Friday was premature and was pulled. It can now be republished – below.

But perhaps Kiwis don’t count as much as the Swiss and the Australians who top the Economist’s Intelligence Unit rankings released today of the best country in which to be born.  New Zealand is placed seventh. The general quality of life rankings reflect GDP, life expectancy, political freedom, job security, climate and gender equality.

1 Switzerland

2 Australia

3 Sweden

4 Denmark

5 Norway

6 Singapore

7 New Zealand

8 Netherlands

9 Canada

10 Hong Kong





 Kiwis still trust that officials will “do what’s right”

16 November 2012

A test of good government is the extent to which the community trusts its officials.  A measure of that trust is shown in the degree to which people using public services believe they can trust the officials involved to do what is right.

New Zealanders have a healthy skepticism when questioned about their trust of the public service. That result is evident in the latest Kiwis Count survey results released this week by the State Services Commission. Respondents in the 2012 second quarter survey showed a slight, statistically insignificant, decline in trust compared to the first quarter report.  In the survey, 42% said they either  “trust them completely” or “trust them a lot”.  This is reflective of a UMR Mood of the Nation survey this time last year which showed only 34% confidence in public service as an institution.

The Kiwis Count survey has repeatedly confirmed that when participants are asked to think about their most recent experience with public services, and to rate the level to which they can trust them to do what is right, the responses show much greater confidence. In the second quarter survey 75% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they could trust public services to do what is right. In the same way, the rating of most identified agencies was higher than confidence in Public Service as a whole.

But the trust people have in others is not consistently reflective of the trustworthiness of their communities. This is shown in the data collated in the World Values Surveys. People  whose trust in others is the most marked, are not necessarily from integrity rich, corruption free economies.

The top ten countries where survey respondents said “people can be trusted” were

1                     Norway

2                     Sweden

3                     Denmark

4                     China

5                     Finland

6                     Switzerland

7                     Saudi Arabia

8                     Vietnam

9                     New Zealand

10                 Australia