Here to help which cause?

The principal and all but a couple of teachers at a primary school were happy with the introduction of National Standards.

Then the people turned up to train them and mixed with the training they had a lot of criticism of the introduction of the standards.

How unprofessional is that?

As former States Services Commissioner  Mark Prebble told Kathryn Ryan:

“Public servants have to implement the policies of the government of the day

Many people come to government to try to support a good cause. They don’t realise the one who has to determine which good cause is to be supported is the democratically minister of the day.  . . .

 A key part of the role of senior public servants is to explain to them well it is the minister who has to take the heat in public about that and the public servant really isn’t just employed to follow their own interests and if they want to follow their interests they can go and work in the private sector like anyone else. . .

. . . No public servant should be zealous about the particular cause they’re interested in. They should be zealous about democracy and respecting the law. . .”

The  public service must be apolitical. . .

The people who visited the school were paid from the public purse to help implement government policy but instead were doing their best to sabotage it.

If it happened at one school, how many others also found the people sent to help were advancing their own cause rather than giving the professional development the teachers sought and how often does this happen with other policies?

We’ve spent this week with a group of farmers. Each time tenure review was raised the glacial pace at which it proceeds was criticised.

You could be excused for wondering if this is a deliberate policy on the part of some of the public servants involved in the hope that they can delay the process until the government changes.

3 Responses to Here to help which cause?

  1. gravedodger says:

    In response to your last para, a blunt yes.
    When career options were under consideration some 50 years ago the one single reason I was never attracted to the Public Service was the totally emasculated demeanor that the Station Master, The Post Master and The Head Master portrayed as they carried out their duties with all the panache of a slave. Of course I was in total ignorance of the apolitical stance their acceptance of the career choice demanded and their acceptance of that state of affairs.
    That total acceptance gave them ,particularly in the case of the teacher and the post master a position of trust in the community way beyond their job, as a counselor, a trustee, a confidant and go to person before the bewildering cotiere of trained minds who are supposed to be available today filled positions in the various ministries and “affairs” creations.
    Growing up in a small but somewhat isolated country district 100 Kms from the city these public servants were a source of knowledge and advice who were trusted to prepare tax returns, give simple legal advice and just someone who a person could trust to listen and keep the information confidential.
    Today many politically aware young people enter the Public Service with a clear agenda to change the world with little regard for the core duty of service. Hence the clear evidence of the politicisation of teaching, broadcasting and local body work, in particular plus of course the ever expanding cadre of those, so well exemplified by the unfortunate mr Darren Hughes, who make a political life their career.
    The perception of the gut feelings of those involved in tenure review and the school anecdote would be clear indications of the sea change that has occurred imo. A perception strengthened nay,backed up with the movement of people such as Fa Foi and Mould et al into full-time political roles.


  2. Richard says:

    Reminds me of “Yes Minister” and Roger Hall’s? comedy about civil servants? – what was its name?
    Personal experience, that was quite the reverse or perhaps an adjunct to political behavior and practices.
    Max Bradford,(he,of electricity reform) in the 90’s, decided to disband the regional Business Development Boards.
    Max ordered an audit of all Boards and found that the Otago board had failed because of one receipt, if I recall, was out of order. BDB’s were disbanded shortly after-wards.
    I went to Wellington to protest about about the way this process was being conducted. I met with a Humphrey civil servant dressed with gray shoes- Bob Jones would would have loved it – except that Bob probably owned the building where Gray Shoes worked from. Gray Shoes was full of platitude’s and it was clear a place would be found for him until retirement and generous pension.
    Two points :
    a. Minister/Civil Servant is a two way association not reflected in your post.
    b. Specifically, on education and also other ministries – Labour populated the civil service with people with political bias- could name a few.

    Mark Prebble was a very good civil servant, in my view,and commentators, MSM, should be listening to him.
    P.S. Ele ,hope I have the Otago BDB thing right


  3. homepaddock says:

    Richard I have no memory of the audit or the receipt.

    I thought BDBs were disbanded because the government decided there were better ways to spend public money.


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