Kia ora Koutou, welcome to the first edition of Policy Buzz for 2019. I was going to wait until Parliament started sitting before writing this but this year has started with quite a bang in terms of policy announcements that I thought I’d put pen to paper (so to speak) a bit earlier.
Year of Activity
2019 is certainly shaping up to be a year of activity (and possibly even delivery) – you can’t walk into a government department without tripping over a review. Environment, education, health, welfare, justice – every subject matter and policy discipline looks like it’s getting a once-over. Tight time frames to get findings in front of Ministers and Cabinet are a common theme, meaning a fast-moving contract market.
As I had discussed in my final policy buzz in 2018, predictably the coalition government is pushing hard in terms of reform and review to ensure they have ammunition to campaign on coming into election year in 2020. This will mean a busy year for contractors, most likely, who will have the ability to work on some significant projects tackling ‘wicked’ and ‘super wicked’ policy issues.
I attended the IPANZ annual address last week where Grant Robertson spoke about his Wellbeing Budget and what that means for New Zealand, and the public sector.
He outlined 3 important aspects of the budget:
- That it will be a whole of government approach – this is evident in ‘task-force’ style teams which are being put together to address issues such as water quality, or family and sexual violence, for example.
- Aiming for intergenerational outcomes – essentially putting policies in place which they hope will have positive effects for those in the future. This is an interesting one as those who know anything about the policy-cycle are aware that seeing tangible and measurable outcomes from policy changes generally takes longer than a 3 year election cycle. What this means for the future of the Wellbeing Budget is unclear, especially if the policy changes aren’t ratified in legislation and at the mercy of the government of the day.
- Moving beyond the narrow measures of success – an “outputs rather than outcomes” approach, which from a policy perspective could be quite subjective.
What This Means for the Public Sector
This is not a political blog (in terms of bias) by any means, and the reason I discuss the Wellbeing Budget is with an eye to what it will mean for the public sector as a whole, and more importantly for the individual public servant.
Dr Jonathan Boston (Professor of Public Policy at Victoria University) posed a question to Minister Robertson regarding the wellbeing of the public sector who are working to very tight time frames and are under a lot of pressure to deliver these wellbeing initiatives.
A clear answer wasn’t really given, certainly nothing to the tune of relief in the form of more hands on deck, so we will have to watch this space!
2019 Is Going To Be Busy
One thing we know for sure is 2019 is going to be a busy and interesting time for policy development and implementation, which I’m sure will provide me with endless content for my future Policy Buzz articles.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the year ahead – what does it mean for you?
Until next time, ka kite ano.