The government’s newly announced "to-do" list is full of apple pie targets that no-one could really disagree with.
The question is, does National have the recipe, and is that mock cream on top?
Apparently, the already slimmed down public sector is expected to actually come up with the plans and prove they are achieving them with regular updates on progress – see Audrey Young’s Key sets tough 'to-do list' for public sector
Most of the targets would be hard to criticise (which is the main political reason for having them) but there is, of course, a big difference between setting targets and having a realistic plan for achieving them. The most damning criticism comes from Russell Brown, who looks at the laudable target to reduce rheumatic fever by two thirds and plots it against the reality today and comments: "Did the poor civil servant who had to draw that graph believe it? Does anyone actually believe it?" – see: If wishing made it so ...
Rheumatic fever in New Zealand is overwhelmingly a disease of Maori and Pacifica children and one that numerous health professionals have said is a direct result of poverty and poor housing. Getting the Ministry of Health to reduce those causes will definitely "stretch their ability". A similarly damning critique is put forward by Gordon Campbell: On the government’s new social targets
The prime minister’s track record on meeting targets isn’t that great, according to Scott Yorke: "Closing the income gap with Australia, creating more jobs, reducing the number of people fleeing to a better life in Australia. And now the promise to get back into budget surplus, which he's already backtracking on" – see: More Futile and Cynical Policy
Some of the targets will be achieved in any case given current trends, while others can’t be fudged, and like the rheumatic fever target will be a challenge and require a dramatic reversal of trends.
In light of debates over ACC and education, however, there will be suspicion that public service CEOs with a careful eye on their bonus may find ways to meet the targets that aren’t in their clients or the public interest – see Andrea Vance’s State boss bonus for hitting targets.
The reduction in long-term beneficiary numbers is the most obvious example. Government enthusiast David Farrar praises the government for setting hard time frames and hard numbers and uses a hypothetical example: "such as 'reduce the unemployment rate by 25% in three years”’ – see: The Government targets
That would be a target few could argue with, but it is actually very different from what the Government has actually set itself to do, which is: "Reduce those on Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months by 30%, from 78,000 to 55,000."
Bronwyn Pullar and the hundreds of other long-term ACC claimants dumped from ACC’s books may have a more cynical view of how those CEO bonuses may get approved.
ACC’s problems are creating further fallout for the government, with the promised introduction of private competition into the work account again going into the too-hard basket – see Rob Hosking’s Key says ACC reform has been delayed – again
Gordon Brown in the Taranaki Daily News praises the competition policy but criticises the abandonment of the original "pay-as-you-go" model that means We're paying too much for ACC
. The two may be mutually exclusive as it seems private insurers can’t compete with ACC now, let alone under the old model that may see levies 30% lower.
Other important or interesting political items yesterday include:
Where does real power lie within Maoridom? The power shifts are discussed in a very good blog post by Morgan Godfery, which examines the role and relevance of the two main non-parliamentary institutions in Maoridom, the Iwi Leaders Group, the Maori Council – see: Merging the Maori Council
. Godfery also comments on the latest in the internal Mana Party debates on gay marriage: Refusing to budge on marriage equality
The final Media 7 show on TVNZ7 is upon us, and Russell Brown is looking at the extraordinary and blatant grab for editorial control over Fairfax by Aussie mining magnate Gina Rinehart – see: Strange days for journalism
The Timaru Herald is the latest to publish an editorial that is unimpressed with "Trasher Tolleys’" gleeful dance on a boy racer’s crushed car – see: OK, point's been made
. They make the point that crushing rather than selling the car cost taxpayers $9000 but made no difference to the offender.
Japan’s economy has been stagnating for nearly 25 years and Gareth Morgan Investments director Andrew Gawith wonders if this will be the new reality for the global economy – see: Low growth and interest rates might stick
Has the government put the fox in charge of the henhouse? Ex National MP and Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich has been appointed to the Health Promotion Agency board – see Isaac Davison’s Lobbyist appointment no conflict: Key