English politician of year again

Trans Tasman named Finance Minister and deputy PM Bill English as its politician of the year.

Colin James gives him the double.

. . . But there was cabinet innovation: 10 quantitatively targeted cross-government outcomes which require public servants to make an actual difference, not tick “output” boxes and which, while maybe diverting resources from other necessities in the short term, could be developed for wider use longer-term.

Who in the cabinet drives this thinking? Who pushed an actuarial/investment approach to social policy, limited in scope and application but the government’s most important policy innovation so far?

Who backed the Land and Water Forum which has won consensus on a devilish issue? Who pushed the public service to think how to do more with less without austerity? Who is the policy wonk who looks for deeper and longer-term options?

Who, despite the earthquake, got fiscal consolidation on track and is admired in Australia and Hong Kong (though also calculated wrongly on Cullen fund contributions and the SOE floats)?

Who anchors a sometimes wayward and radical cabinet within sight of National’s moderate conservative tradition?

A man rooted deep in that tradition. A man with a Southland drawl and manner. Bill English is my politician for 2013.

None of these achievements should be taken for granted but the 10 quantitatively targeted cross-government outcomes which require public servants to make an actual difference, not tick “output” boxes are especially noteworthy.

This means public servants have to be responsible for not just doing something, but doing something which makes a positive difference.

That most of them have risen to the challenge is a credit to them as well as the Minister who’s changed the way they operate for the better.

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