Lees-Galloway gets his marching orders, the ministerial team gets a shake-up, but NZ First does not get Immigration

Latest from the Beehive

Hot off the press, as we were preparing this Beehive bulletin, came a statement from Iain Lees-Galloway which had not been posted on the Beehive website.   It came hard on the heels of a statement from the PM which announced Lees-Galloway has been dismissed and her ministerial team had been reshuffled.

Carmel Sepuloni will become the Minister for ACC, Andrew Little will become the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety and Kris Faafoi will become Minister for Immigration.

New Zealand First will be disappointed.  Winston Peters at the weekend had declared his party’s special interest in the Immigration portfolio.

But what prompted the ministerial reshuffle?

It transpires the PM had been given cause to question the hapless Lees-Galloway and her Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety had confirmed a consensual relationship with someone who had previously worked in his office and had been based in one of the agencies in his ministerial bailiwick. Continue reading “Lees-Galloway gets his marching orders, the ministerial team gets a shake-up, but NZ First does not get Immigration”

Ministers pay tribute to refugees and volunteers (and Lees-Galloway will have more to say in a Beehive speech)

Refugees and volunteers were the subjects of the only two press statements to emerge from the Beehive since our previous report on ministerial announcements.

Saturday was World Refugee Day, giving Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway a pretext for reminding us of his existence, and Sunday was the start of National Volunteer Week, 21 June to 27 June 2020, giving Community and Volunteer Sector Minister Poto Williams a similar platform.

Both occasions left us wondering at Point of Order:  who dreams up these occasions?

Lees-Galloway clumsily said:

“The Government is proud to play our part in international humanitarian work to provide support and protection to refugees, and celebrate the contributions our refugee community makes on World Refugee Day today.”

So how does it regard the contributions our refugee community makes on other days? Continue reading “Ministers pay tribute to refugees and volunteers (and Lees-Galloway will have more to say in a Beehive speech)”

Stats NZ – struggling with its census data – is aiming higher and will measure our spiritual well-being

The public service has gone all touchy-feely as it gets to grips with the well-being message from the PM and her government.  Or maybe it simply wants us to think it has gone all touchy-feely.

This includes the number-crunching Government Statistician, whose agency is struggling to crunch the latest census data, and – good grief! – the bosses of The Treasury, an outfit we thought was hard-nosed about things like government spending and fiscal rigour.

What’s more, as we were drafting this post, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced the Government was able to improve the well-being of older working New Zealanders and those working overseas with the passing of the Accident Compensation Amendment Bill.

“The legislation passed last night helps ensure we improve the well-being of New Zealanders by addressing a number of gaps and technical issues in the ACC scheme to help keep the system fair, transparent and accessible for all claimants,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

The changes are outlined in his press statement,

Meanwhile Stats NZ – still struggling to publish hard census data – has set about trying to measure things such as our spiritual health (which, in the case of the writer of this post, is strongly linked to gin-and-tonic consumption).

We suspect the statisticians have other forms of spiritual health in mind as they pump resources into their well-being measures, presumably diverting them from the less consequential task of producing census results.

Michael Reddell, at Croaking Cassandra, is appropriately scornful: 

The Government Statistician can’t manage a census competently, and won’t tell us (let alone MPs) just how bad the situation is (about a census taken more than a year ago), but today – aiding and abetting the government’s Wellbeing Budget branding – she was out with the final list of indicators to be published in this brave new world.   It goes under the label “Indicators Aotearoa”, and in addition to not being able to run a census, she seems –  in common with many public servants –  to have forgotten the name of the country: New Zealand.

Among the list of indicators –  many of which are already published (and thus you wonder what value there is in one set of bureaucrats prioritising them and putting them in one place) –  was this snippet.


I don’t have too much problem with suicide rates.  They are reasonably hard and somewhat meaningful data (but comparisons across time and across countries are hard).

But the other three made almost no sense.

Take that “spiritual health” indicator –  well, there is no indicator yet, but an aspiration to have one.  Real resources are being wasted on this stuff.    Who knows what business it is of the government to be measuring “spiritual health”, whatever it means?  And, strangely, it appears that the Government Statistician believes that only the “spiritual health” of Maori people (or was that “Maori society”?) matters.  Are we back in taniwha territory again…?

Reddell sent us to look at the Stats website which explains:

Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand is being developed by Stats NZ as a source of measures for New Zealand’s well-being. The set of indicators will go beyond economic measures, such as gross domestic product (GDP), to include well-being and sustainable development.

The well-being indicators will build on international best practice, and will be tailored to New Zealand.

This work supports many cross-government initiatives and international reporting requirements, including the Treasury’s Living Standards Framework and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Indicators Aotearoa New Zealand will be delivered by Stats NZ and will support the government’s ambition to use a well-being approach to strategic decision-making.

Indicators for which we have information will be populated with data when we release our website in late June 2019. 

The selection of indicators to be reported on from June this year (in an attempt “to understand the most important aspects of well-being for New Zealanders”) significantly was not driven by the availability of data.

The initial set of indicators includes gaps in data, ranging from a complete absence of data to limitations on the ability to break information down to useful and meaningful levels for different communities.

Stats NZ is working with stakeholders to prioritise understanding data gaps and how they can be addressed. We’re feeding this information back to Government for their consideration.

The indicators signed off by the Government Statistician include:

Engagement in cultural activities; inter-generational transfer of knowledge; te reo Māori speakers

Health equity; health expectancy; mental health status (psychological distress); amendable mortality; self-reported health status; spiritual health; suicide

Language development and retention; sense of belonging

Knowledge and skills
Core competencies (non-cognitive skills); early childhood education (ECE) participation; educational attainment; inequality of educational outcomes; literacy, numeracy, and science skills of 15-year-olds

Active stewardship of land

Leisure and personal time; satisfaction with leisure time

Domestic violence; experience of discrimination; harm against children; injury prevalence; perceptions of safety/feelings of safety; victimisation

Social connections
Contact with family and friends; loneliness; social support

Subjective well-being
Ability to be yourself; experienced well-being; hope for the future; life satisfaction; locus of control; sense of purpose, whānau well-being

Human capital
Health expectancy; literacy, numeracy and science skills of 15-year-olds; te reo Māori speakers

Social capital
Generalised trust; institutional trust; volunteering

The Treasury’s contribution to the push for compassion comes from the development of its Living Standards Framework (LSF) to help it advise governments about how the policy trade-offs they make are likely to affect everyone’s living standards.

The LSF looks across the human, social, natural and financial/physical aspects of those things that affect our well-being – the ‘four capitals’. It is a tool that emphasises the diversity of outcomes meaningful for New Zealanders, and helps the Treasury to analyse, measure and compare those outcomes through a wide and evolving set of indicators.

Read more about the Treasury’s approach to living standards here: The Treasury Approach to the Living Standards Framework

But hey – Eric Crampton, on the Offsetting Behaviour blog, tells us what else they are up to.

He draws attention to an invitation to pay a $35 registration fee for an event at Treasury,  which is helping to promote a small business involving a former Treasury staffer by hosting the event and encouraging folks to buy its products.

We are teased to attending by a flyer which is headed:

Imagine surprising Aotearoa with a strain of compassion so delightful that it re-wires our collective consciousness!  

Come and join us in our social lab

The Treasury promoters are Fiona Ross, The Treasury Chief Operating Officer, David Dougherty, The Treasury Manager Strategy and Performance, and “24 curious and creative people at The Treasury” who have been “experimenting the social lab”.

They have

 … created a “compassion starter culture” – a network of people who want to create a more compassionate culture in Aotearoa, starting where we are – in our workplaces.

We’ve been playing and rapidly prototyping with the Heartwork Wellbeing Card Game* – now available publicly.

We know that the intention for what we want to create has a huge power.

We don’t have all the answers. And we can’t do this mahi alone.

So we’d like to invite you into this social lab.

So we can grow an even more beautiful, and more resilient strain together.
We’ll share what we’re learning while we’re still metabolising.

Fiona Ross will tell attendees about what she’s been learning from her experiments with the Heartwork cards in her work as Chief Operating Officer of the Treasury.

We don’t know much about Heartwork cards.

We do know a full house (three of a kind with a pair) beats a flush in a poker game.

And we are sure too many New Zealanders are not as flush as they would like to  be.

We must wait to see how their lot will be improved by Treasury’s fascination with compassion and Heartwork cards.

Putting the Sroubek puzzle together is challenging – perhaps a key piece is missing

What’s  the  piece  missing from the  public  gaze  on the  Karel Sroubek scandal and what’s behind the  heavy backing  given to  Iain Lees-Galloway  by  both  the  Prime  Minister  and   the Deputy Prime Minister?

The blunder  the Immigration Minister made  over the  convicted criminal Sroubek  is  one of the  most egregious  by  a  minister  in decades.  He  wouldn’t have survived  under Helen Clark – or, for that matter, most other  Prime Ministers.

In protecting Lees-Galloway,  both the  PM and Deputy  PM  stoked the fires of speculation and political tension, culminating in the stoush in Parliament  where the Speaker expelled first the  Leader of  the Opposition, Simon  Bridges,  and then the Shadow  Leader of the  House,  Gerry Brownlee.

Continue reading “Putting the Sroubek puzzle together is challenging – perhaps a key piece is missing”

Why the Nats can welcome the decision to let Immigration Minister stay

No-one  had ever thought of  him   as  a  potential Olympic  performer  but Iain Lees-Galloway’s  back  somersault with double twist  this  week  would surely have  qualified  him.

If he  doesn’t make  it to Tokyo,  he  still  won  an award from  the  Prime Minister – he retained his job as   Immigration  Minister, despite calls from the Opposition for his resignation.

It  may  be  something he comes to regret,  for   he  now  carries  the   stigma  of a minister  who is little short of  a walking disaster,  one who can’t be left to make a decision on  his own.

He  may be   grateful  that  Deputy PM  Winston Peters  sought to defend him in the  House, although Peters in effect  gave   the  game  away  when he conceded  Lees-Galloway  had  made  a  “mistake”. Continue reading “Why the Nats can welcome the decision to let Immigration Minister stay”

Jacindamania may fade – but not necessarily before the Nats rediscover their mojo

Although  the  rest of the  country may  still be fingering the  results  of  their  Black  Friday  shopping,   no  such  luck  for the   politicians  as  they  move into the  final phase of the  parliamentary  year.

Each of  the  main parties  is  desperate  for a spark  to lift  performance  (and perhaps polling).

PM  Jacinda  Ardern  is taking a shellacking  for   her silence on  China, its  human rights  offences, its cyber-bullying and in particular the  Professor Anne-Marie  Brady  affair. And then,  for  reasons no-one can guess at, she has turned a blind eye  to the disgraceful performance   of   Immigration Minister  Iain Lees-Galloway in  handling  the  issue of  deporting  Czech  drug smuggler   Karel Sroubek.

Is  Jacindamania  fading?  Perhaps not  yet,  but  it soon  will, at this rate. Continue reading “Jacindamania may fade – but not necessarily before the Nats rediscover their mojo”

Robertson says economy is on a roll but – crumbs – some colleagues look like toast

Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson  could barely contain  his  exuberant enthusiasm over  how the government  is performing  when he  opened the  general debate in  Parliament this week.

It has  scored  the trifecta: a  $5.5bn  surplus, an annual GDP growth rate  approaching  3%  and  the lowest  unemployment figure in  a decade, 3.9%.

This  coalition is on a  roll”, he trumpeted. 

The good  news  didn’t end there: Continue reading “Robertson says economy is on a roll but – crumbs – some colleagues look like toast”

Fair wage plans are upsetting for some on the left, too

Some business people are uneasy about Government proposals to introduce fair pay agreements. Far-left commentators – as it happens – aren’t too chuffed about what’s going on, either.

Their concerns are encapsulated in the headline on a weekend post at Scoop which shrilly warns: Labour government to extend bans on strikes

Beneath the headline, John Braddock, from the Socialist Equality Group, complains that New Zealand’s Labour Party-led government has “defrauded” voters by preparing to further restrict the right to strike for broad sections of workers when it overhauls the country’s industrial laws.

If you read on, you will learn more about who are the goodies and baddies in the formulation of labour market policy, as viewed through a Socialist Equality Group prism, than about anything  the Government wants to hide from us.  Continue reading “Fair wage plans are upsetting for some on the left, too”

Maybe a fair wage model is better found by taking a steer from Mainfreight

Workplace Minister Iain Lees-Galloway scored something of a political  coup when he enlisted  former PM Jim Bolger to head the Fair  Pay Agreement Working  Group   which will make recommendations on the  design of a  sector-level bargaining system.

Bolger thus has  a  key role in  shaping Labour’s policy on  “fair-pay” agreements.

It  is an understatement to say National mandarins were hardly chuffed by Bolger’s enthusiasm  for the  task.  National strongly opposes Labour’s plan which – in effect – turns the clock back on industrial  bargaining. Continue reading “Maybe a fair wage model is better found by taking a steer from Mainfreight”