All government departments and ministries are to be dispersed to the provinces in a whole-of-government decentralisation programme.
“We got the message from Northland that people think the government doesn’t care about the provinces and by extension that means people think government departments and ministries don’t care,” State Services spokesperson Ms Verity Factotum said.
“That isn’t true but that’s the perception and perception is reality and therefore we are duty bound to disprove that perception, prove it wrong and re-programme provincial thinking so everyone there understands that we do in fact care,” she said.
“We can’t expect the mountains to come to Mohammad so all the various departmental and ministerial Mohammads are going to the mountains, all of which are of course in the provinces.”
Ms Factotum said the departments and ministries wouldn’t literally be shifting to the mountains as most of them were too high and too far from anywhere serving a decent latte.
“We can’t expect our staff to work at high altitude or make coffee sacrifices but they will all be moving to provincial towns.
“We’ve been working with Google Maps, AA guides and iSite offices on the ground in the provinces to ensure we get the best fit between the offices and their location.
“We’ve discovered that Oamaru has an historic precinct, Steam Punk headquarters, the Forrester Gallery and an Opera House which would provide good synergies for the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage.
“Hokitika is the obvious place for the Department of Conservation because most of the West Coast is basically just bush and places we don’t want to mine and we think Customs could shift to Bluff because it’s got a port.
“Relocating the Ministry of Primary Industries is proving to be somewhat more problematic because we’ve found that every provincial town has some sort of claim to servicing its agricultural hinterland and we may have to set up a separate MPI in all of them.”
Ms Factotum said they were having a similar problem siting the Ministries of Education and health because every town had a school and medical centre or hospital but they’d settled on Dunedin for them because it had a university and a medical school too.
“There’s also a School of Physical Education there which will could make a helpful and healthful contribution to government plans to reduce obesity.
“Relocating the Ministry of Tourism is also raising difficulties as every single iSite has many and varied claims to tourist attractions and again we might divide it into mini Ministries with offices anywhere there’s something to do or see.
“The Ministry of Internal Affairs could move to Eketahuna or Taumarunui as both were inland which is the geographical equivalent of internal and Treasury will go to Gisborne because it’s the first place to see the sun and we think the staff will benefit from the vitamin D.
Ms Factotum said there were still decisions to be made on other departments and ministries and some issues to be worked through. But the government had impressed upon the SSC that the relocation was a matter of urgency and all transfers were expected to be signed off by midday today.