Where the buck should stop | The Jackal

17 Jun 2013

Where the buck should stop

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

...It is now common practice, when things go wrong, for ministers - not to defend their officials, but to blame them - as a means of avoiding any responsibility themselves.

The most recent and egregious example is the outfall from the Novopay debacle. A process that has created huge damage to an important public sector undertaking - our schools - was monitored and eventually signed off by three ministers; when they put their signatures to the sign-off, they in effect accepted responsibility for what they had decided.

We are now told that they did not know what they were signing because they had been provided with inaccurate information by their officials. The consequence is that the senior officials involved have been hung out to dry; two have departed (the second under threat of an investigation) and the pressure is mounting against the third.

The ministers sail on unchallenged and unaffected. It was not, it seems, anything to do with them. In this, they are following an unfortunate precedent set - among others - by Murray McCully.

Considering there's a complete lack of any ministerial accountability, one has to ask the question; do we really need a government at all? If all a Minister of the Crown needs to do is pass the buck down the chain of command in order to save their own hides, then what use are they?

I ask because with big business effectively owning the government, more and more decisions are being made that only benefit the 2 per cent, while the vast majority of people are paying a very high price indeed for a failing system. Clearly the current situation is detrimental to democracy, and verily to society in general as well.

There simply isn’t any progress when Ministers continually make the wrong decisions because it suits their business interests or defunct ideology, and without any consequences for those wrong decisions, how can we hope the current lot of errant Ministers will start making the right decisions instead?