Julie Anne Genter, Minister of Women and self-appointed minister for culling old white blokes from board rooms, brings performance into considerations when she champions a policy of government intervention to get the gender mix right in the public service workplace.
She has brought the fairness argument into her rhetoric (having more women in leadership “is the right thing to do”) but further asserts
“… diversity helps organisations function more effectively”.
“More women in leadership means better decision making, better organisational resilience and better performance.”
Better performance by what measure?
Point of Order wonders about this in the light of Genter’s performance at Question Time in Parliament yesterday.
If she is to be judged for her prowess at ducking and/or diving, she looks like Olympic Games material.
But National’s Tim Macindoe expected her simply to give him a few numbers about the NZTA.
He would have judged her performance (and not scored her too highly) on the quality of this information.
His question related to New Zealand motorists facing higher motor vehicle levies.
Late last year, in a statement he issued as National’s ACC spokesperson, he referenced ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway’s acknowledgement that the majority of vehicle users will be paying more when it comes time to renew their registration, although Lees-Galloway insisted that ‘across the motor vehicle levy, there’s no change’.
“The reality is that 68 per cent of levy payers will pay more to register their vehicles next year – despite ACC and NZTA’s statistics showing that those drivers proportionately require much lower treatment costs than other road users.
“The levies from owners of safer cars – which make up two-thirds of the vehicle fleet – will be propping up the minority of owners with older, less reliable vehicles. Some of these owners face an increase of over 150 per cent next year.
“The Minister continues to give evasive answers to important questions that New Zealanders are asking – he won’t say what, if any, data was used to justify these increases which leaves the public wondering why exactly these changes are being made, especially considering they come at a time when ACC’s fiscal position is strong.
“The Minister is also undermining his own Government’s taxpayer-funded advertising campaign with the tagline ‘the safer the car, the safer they are’, by hiking costs for those who are helping to make our car fleet safer.”
At that time, Macindoe mused it would be interesting to know what the associate Transport Minister with the delegation for road safety thinks about a move that results in the cost for safer cars increasing.
Yesterday in Parliament, he had his chance to find out through a question put to Genter. He asked if she support NZTA’s current campaign, which promotes the message “The safer the car, the safer they are” to encourage New Zealanders to purchase safer vehicles?
Yes, she replied – she does support the campaign. She went on…
“Vehicle safety, along with road design and speed, can make the difference as to whether someone survives a crash or not. This campaign is about raising awareness with New Zealanders about vehicle safety before they buy their car, not after.”
But as the Hansard record shows, we must wait for the answer to Macindoe’s next question – a question about money.
Hon Tim Macindoe: What is the total cost of the safer cars campaign?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: You would have to direct that question to the New Zealand Transport Agency. They are entirely responsible for administering their own budget on road safety awareness campaigns.
This was not good enough (as Trevor Mallard hastened to point out).
SPEAKER: Order! That’s not a satisfactory answer. I think if the member is answering a transport question of this type, she has parliamentary responsibility for it, even if she doesn’t have operational responsibility. If she doesn’t have the figure, then she should say so and provide it later.
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I don’t have the figure, but I can request it from the New Zealand Transport Agency. But it’s within the overall budget that has been allocated to road safety awareness campaigns.
On to the next question…
Hon Tim Macindoe: Was she consulted by her colleague the Minister for ACC before he decided to increase ACC levies on New Zealand’s safest motor vehicles?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I assume that what the member is referring to is the fact that ACC levies are going to be the same for all vehicles now, which I think is a fairer policy. Of course, across Government, we had discussions about the vehicle risk rating (VRR) policy and whether or not it was effective at driving behaviour change, and the evidence is that it wasn’t.
Hon Tim Macindoe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I specifically asked the Minister if she was consulted by the Minister for ACC.
SPEAKER: She said she had discussions.
Hon Tim Macindoe: Were the Minister’s officials consulted on the proposals to increase ACC levies on New Zealand’s safest vehicles?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: Officials and the Minister and myself all had discussions about changes to the VRR policy, which was to ensure that it was fair to all New Zealanders. I know that member is characterising it as raising levies. It wasn’t raising levies; it was ensuring that all New Zealanders pay the same levy for their motor vehicle.
Hon Tim Macindoe: What official data did she receive from those officials to inform the advice they gave her?
Hon JULIE ANNE GENTER: I have advice from the Ministry of Transport that there has been no change to the rate of vehicle scrappage since the introduction of VRR, and evidence from overseas is that annual charges, as opposed to those at entry, are not effective tools to modify vehicle purchase decisions. I understand where the member is coming from. The reality is that it sounds good in theory, but VRR did not work in practice to drive behaviour change, because the levy is after people have made the decision about what vehicle to purchase. The point of what the Government is doing is ensuring that we raise awareness so that New Zealanders can make that decision when they’re buying their vehicle and not be punished after they’ve already made a decision for which they had virtually no information.
Hon Tim Macindoe: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I asked what official data the Minister had received. I don’t believe she’s answered that question either.
SPEAKER: I think quite early on she said she received information or similar.
Hon Tim Macindoe: Data.
SPEAKER: Well, you can’t have information without data. You can have data without information, but not the other way around.
So the data are in (or may be in) the information which officials passed on to the Minister.
The Minister, we may suppose, has this data.
Time Macindoe – and the public who are being stung by higher ACC levies – alas, do not.