11 July 2013

The State Sector Amendment Act evolved yesterday from splitting the State Sector and Public Finance Reform Bill on its Third Reading. It passed with the support of the Labour opposition.

The Minister enthused about the outcomes that will be facilitated by the new legislation.

“… Within 5 years these changes will distinguish the New Zealand Public Service as functioning as a single system, rather than as a collection of individual agencies; as focusing effort, people, skills, and money on where it is most needed; and as being led by innovative chief executives and senior leadership adept at inspiring and getting the most out of staff, and achieving a collective impact across the public, private, and community sectors. Under this legislation, we will be proud of public agencies that design services with, and for, the people who use them; a public sector that uses technology expertly and safely to provide better services and increase efficiency; a public service that can transparently measure and report on its performance across the whole system to identify weaknesses and drive further improvement; and agencies that will use this data to help direct the resources and attention to where they are needed most, and that have the capability and resilience to meet not just the tasks of today, but to meet the challenges of future change and grasp the opportunities…”

The Labour spokesman reminded the House that his party gave support only after amendments to protect employment rights of State servants .  He was complimentary about  the effectiveness of the legislative process when a select committee showed independence and Ministers showed flexibility.  He spoke of the unchanging commitment of those who work for the Government. He highlighted the amended purpose in the Bill. He emphasised that it

“… is a commendable clause in terms of setting out the principles of the State sector: about the spirit of service to the community, about the collective interests of the Government, about appropriate standards of integrity and conduct; about political neutrality, workforce, and personnel matters being provided for properly; and about good employer-employee obligations as well as about a culture of excellence…”

State servants who dedicate their careers to serving the “Government of the Day” (a tautology as there cannot be any other form of government) will take satisfaction from the mutually supporting speeches of parliamentary leaders championing measures to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the State services while reinforcing traditional values and the spirit of service.