16 Mar 2012

Government has no plan to reach goals - Opposition

9:03 am on 16 March 2012

Opposition parties are dismissing Prime Minister John Key's targets for the public service, saying the Government has no plan for actually delivering on them.

Mr Key on Thursday outlined a new set of goals for the public service and announced the merger of four Government agencies into a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The 10 targets include reducing long-term welfare dependancy, increasing participation in early childhood education, boosting the number of 18-year-olds leaving school with level 2 NCEA qualifications, improving immunisation rates and reducing re-offending.

Mr Key says the goals will help the public service deliver better services, and ministers and chief executives will be held accountable for attaining them.

He says achieving those results will be difficult, but it is time for a clear focus on what will make New Zealand a better place.

"We also want to deliver for all New Zealanders better results and at the moment I think they're not getting the results that they actually deserve, not in the quantifiable way that they understand."

The Labour Party says the Prime Minister's rhetoric does not match the reality.

State services spokesperson Chris Hipkins says the goals are laudable but are long term and will take a lot of time and work to achieve.

"That's going to require some stability in Government, and constantly reorganising things doesn't necessarily lend itself to achieving the goals that (the Prime Minister) has set out."

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says it is all well and good to have aspirational targets, such as reducing the rate of rheumatic fever, but there is no point if there is no plan.

"If they don't join the dots between health, income and housing - which all impact on the rheumatic fever rates, particularly for Maori - then there's no point."

The Greens say it is not possible to reduce the crime rate or improve educational outcomes by sacking staff.

Job losses

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says some of the Government departments about to be merged already cross over each other.

Mr Joyce told Morning Report there will be staff losses, although he doesn't yet know how many.

The new ministry which comes into being on 1 July will replace four agencies: the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Science and Innovation, the Department of Labour and the Department of Building and Housing.

Mr Joyce says after a due diligence process parts of those departments may not join the new entity.

Mr Joyce says the Government is looking for real cohesion in the area of innovation, skills and business regulation, and in micro-economic policy.