John Key: another day, another broken pledge…
National’s hatchet-job on our state service continues – and appears to be getting worse.
Fresh from news that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about to sack 305 people; and 295 uniformed personnel are to be fired from the Defence Force, we learn that Key’s government is about to fire at least 70 staff from Housing NZ,
This is on top of Housing NZ recently announcing that it will no longer assist low-income families with social needs,
Worse still, on top of the redundancies, is the planned closure of offices; and replacing front-line staff with an 0800 number Call Centre.
The sackings are a direct breach of Key’s promise to New Zealanders that the cutting of the state sector would not impact on front-line staff – and indeed he has stated that front-line numbers would be strengthened,
“It’s time to focus public spending on front-line services that make a real difference in people’s lives, rather than paper-shuffling and report-writing that does not…
We are not going to reduce the number of front-line staff. Let me make this absolutely clear – under National the numbers of doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers, police and other front-line staff will grow…
In addition, we are not going to radically reorganise the structure of the state sector. Our focus will be on delivering services. Just as Labour has done, we will take opportunities to make changes to some agencies as part of the usual business of government. However, there will be no wholesale reorganisation or restructuring across the state sector… ” – John Key, 12 March 2008
John Key has broken every aspect of his own committments that he made to the nation, nearly four years ago, and which he has been repeating ad nauseum ever since.
Not only is his government sacking front line staff – but they are radically reorganising the state sector. Key’s most bizarre recent proposal was contracting out government services to Google. I kid you not: Rise of the Terminator Keybot!
A proposal to replace 1,000 full time soldiers in the Defence Force with “reservists”, who are “on call”, is a depletion of front-line personnel. This leaves NZ ill-equipped and ill-prepared to meet our international committments for U.N. peacekeeping duties, or local disaster relief operations.
Soldiers are front-line personnel. In fact, the term “front line” is a military term.
For those of us with fairly decent memories, we may recall the 1990s; when a Bolger and Shipley-led National governments cut the state sector until health, housing, social services, etc, were failing to meet the needs of ordinary New Zealanders.
At one stage Prime Minister Jenny Shipley was mooting moving or demolishing the Beehive Building so that an extension to the main Parliamentary Building could be undertaken. The cost to taxpayers was estimated to be in the region of $94 million (1997 dollars).
All whilst rentals for State houses were set at market prices; ex-psychiatric patients were living in public toilets; and on 3 April 1998, Southland dairy farmer Colin Morrison (42) died on a waiting list, awaiting a triple heart bypass surgery. His condition was listed as “life threatening” – but was still on a waiting list when he died.
And all during the 1990s, the wealth/income gap between the top 10% and the rest of New Zealand widened further and further.
By 27 November, 1999, New Zealanders had had a gutsful and threw out the National government.
History is repeating. The question is, how bad will it get this time? Perhaps as bad as families living in caravans?
On Colin Morrison 1998)