The bit that was missing from the Wellbeing Budget

: State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes with State Services Minister Chris Hipkins at the launch of the proposals yesterday.
 

State Services Minister Chris Hipkins yesterday unveiled the bit that was missing out of the Wellbeing Budget.

Launching his new Public Service Bill, Hipkins said the new legislation would allow the creation of joint ventures involving multiple Government departments and entities.

The ventures would be presided over by boards of departmental Chief Executives and would have their own budgets.

The funding will need to be covered off in changes to the Public Finance Act, which are expected to be unveiled early next year.

Hipkins described the new legislation as the biggest transformation of the Public Service in 30 years.

And he is starting by renaming the legislation from the State Sector Act to the Public Service Act.

POLITIK has previously reported on Hipkins thinking about his desire to return to an emphasis on public service and to allow for a more joined-up public service.

“The reforms will bring whole-of-government action - shifting agencies from working as single departments to working as one, unified Public Service, able to quickly mobilise and tackle specific issues,” he said yesterday.

“The reforms will mean leaders in the Public Service will take joint responsibility for the whole of the Public Service, rather than just individual agencies, to tackle the country’s big challenges.

“It will be easier to deploy public servants to work on single-issue challenges.”

Values like "spirit of service" to the community, political neutrality and frank advice and merit-based appointments will be embedded in the legislation.

The Act will include a stand-alone clause about the expectations of the public service in relation to Te Tiriti o Waitangi/the Treaty of Waitangi.

“In other words, the Act will recognise the responsibility of the Public Service – including Crown Agents – to support the Crown to fulfil its responsibilities under the Treaty," he said.

“This will also mean chief executives have a collective responsibility to develop cultural competence and capability, for supporting Māori leadership within the public service and ensuring the public service engages with and has strong relationships with Māori.”

These values and Treaty obligations will now extend to all Crown agencies such as  ACC, district health boards, Housing NZ, New Zealand Transport Agency and NZQA.

But the ability to create joint ventures will be one of the most radical consequences of the legislation and will enable the Government to assign sp[ecific well-being targets to those joint ventures.

Hipkins, more or less admitted that the inability to do this had been a problem with the well-being budget.

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