ACT would return bureaucrats to 2017 levels

Thu, 21 Apr, 2022

“Today’s monster inflation number will have to be tamed and we need to start with politicians showing a bit of restraint”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Prices are rising because there’s too much money chasing too few goods. Part of the reason is because government spending is out of control.

“ACT would start by returning the number of bureaucrats working in central government to 2017 levels.

“The number of public servants exploded between 2017 and 2021. Labour added 13,845 full-time equivalent workers at an average salary of $87,600 over that period. That’s an extra $1.21 billion in wages alone.

“These workers don’t include teachers, police officers, nurses, or any front line workers. They’re administrators who make work for themselves competing with the private sector (e.g. Kainga Ora) or dream up new bureaucracy to make life harder for workers (e.g. Ministry of Education).

“ACT asks the simple question: are we getting $1.21 billion worth of better outcomes from this explosion in bureaucrats? If not, why must taxpayers keep paying them? At a minimum, we should return to 2017 numbers, saving $1.21 billion in salaries, and probably another billion in non-salary employment costs.

“We should then go further, and ask another simple question: what do we need government to do, and how many people do we need to do it? We need to stop assuming government departments should exist because they always have.

“ACT says we need to zero base government. That means going back to zero and asking: if the bureaucracies we have now didn’t exist, would we establish them today?

“If government departments can show the extra public servants have achieved good results for New Zealanders, we would keep them. If not, they’d go.

“Many New Zealand companies no longer exist: Deka, the Auckland Star, South Canterbury Finance, Mainzeal, Video Ezy. If businesses don’t deliver, they go. Why should a government department be any different?

“How many zombie departments and bureaucrats does this country have? People who just carry on collecting a pay cheque. Why do we put up with the idea that government can get bigger, but it can never get smaller?

“How is it possible that the Ministry of Education has gotten bigger, while student results get worse?

“ACT would ask every department to answer the simple question: If you didn’t exist, who would notice and why?

“Another cycle of National holding the line so Labour can pick up right where it left off last time just won’t do.

“New Zealand needs real change – that should start with politicians showing a bit of restraint when it comes to spending other people’s money.”