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A blow to democracy

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

By John Tamihere

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and the New Zealand public has every right to find out who used private information for political purposes and benefits. That’s why the main story this week was the serving of legal documents on people involved in breaking the Peters story of his superannuation overpayments. His writ requests the source of the journalists story but for some reason, people in the media are describing this as a “chilling attack” on the rights of the media.


What is more “chilling” is that a citizens private information, known only to a very few number of beaurecrats in the Ministry of Social Development and Work & Income, was made known to National Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley.


Winston’s litigation has nothing to do with media freedom – it has everything to do with his right to privacy. It has got everything to do with the integrity and credibility of our political system. Somebody in the senior beauracray or in the National Party took winston’s information and gave it to someone friendly in the media who was prepared to run with it.


The use of this information and smear campaign right in the middle of an election period is unprecedented.


We all knew it was going to be a hotly contested election and the polls between National and Labour were closing. A third party, New Zealand First were in the box seat to decide who governed following the election.


No one was going to out Winston unless they had primary source documentation that could verify their story and up their reputation. Media integrity and credibilityis important but clearly those handed this information on a platter determined it was too good not to use during the campaign. This was a knowing breach of an individuals right to privacy - but worse than that, it was tailor made to destroy the integrity and credibility of the New Zealand First Leader in the middle of a hotly contested election.


That is what is chilling and that is what must be investigated and that is why any court you would think would provide Winston with the order to obtain access to those who passed on that information in an attempt to corrupt the New Zealand election process. It actually came to pass, that there was nothing untoward in the actions of Winston’s overpayments, yet within all news that is false, it’s the initial sting that has all of the carry.


People are overloaded with information through social networking and get most of their news from headlines. There is no doubt that this story damaged Winston and his electoral numbers. There is no doubt that it was premeditated to do this and there is no doubt that either the National Party Ministers or their senior beaurecrats individually or collectively plotted to ensure the demise of the New Zealand First Party.


The incoming government must start a range of inquiries into the way in which the last government conducted itself on a number of fronts. If I was a supporter of Winston’s, I would petition the Prime Minister for a Commission of Inquiry, headed by a judge or Queen’s Counsel.


This is not about Winston – not about New Zealand First. It’s about the integrity and credibility of our democratic processes, practices and the ethics of those that hold signifigant private information and are prepared to release it in advancing their own narrow interests.



Ardern Government rings in new values and cultural change

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

By John TamihereJT


Around the world new governments’ assert their mana as a new administration in their first 100 days in office. But unlike President Trump’s first 100 days where nothing happened, the Labour-led coalition is changing the culture of government as much as its substance, very quickly and very early.


After nine years of a National-led administration, a number of people have become embedded in process, in procedure, in benefits, and many policy administrators in the New Zealand Public Service have become arrogant and entitled.


Any new government must assert its values and culture quickly; to work out whether its senior bureaucrats have the will to change and the ability to implement change.


Unlike Trump, who could not muster the votes from within his own party, this government has confidence and supply numbers to change legislation and direction.


We have a process adopted from Great Britain called Whipping. The Party Whips make it clear to their members that they must be disciplined and vote consistently to their negotiated policy framework to provide certainty, solidity and stability for the next three years. This in turn gives certainty and stability to society, the community and the country.


The new administration has quickly announced that it will repeal National’s tax breaks that advantaged those earning over $90k a year. Prime Minister Ardern and her colleagues have also moved to clearly express what New Zealanders know - we need more social workers, more teachers, better parenting and less domestic violence. And, we do not need more prison beds that cost the taxpayer over $100k a year per prisoner. The 3 strikes law has also been chopped. That was dog-whistle politics from the Act Party, strongly supported by National and its application over 7 years applied to just TWO prisoners.


The ban on foreign buyers on existing housing stock has been warmly received by over 90% of New Zealanders, though there are a few upset real estate agents, lawyers, accountants and bankers. But in good west Auckland terminology, we would say to these folk, ‘so sad too bad!’


Paid Parental Leave goes from 18 to 22 weeks and Chris Hipkins will be acknowledged as one of the best Education Ministers the country has ever produced. His decision to question NCEA, to scrap national standards, and increase student allowance is long overdue.


A change of culture and values gives mana to the Pike River 29, as significant resource will be needed for a manned entry to return those great West Coast men to their whānau. It is also right that the Government adopt the High Court recommendation regarding Teina Pora by allowing for inflation and increasing compensation for his wrongful conviction.


But the test of this government will be in meeting the huge log jams and pent up expectations left by the last government. All New Zealanders’ need to be proud of a government’s attention to basic and fundamental values, attributes and assertions of culture by addressing the call from nurses, teachers, low-paid hospitality, cleaners and construction workers to increase wages. These are the values that distinguish us from the world.


Ardern has said she is privileged and humbled to lead a more empathetic government. Her first 100 days can set the scene to demonstrate value-led decisions and provide a cultural shift to a New Zealand where everyone benefits.


Why Whānau Ora must succeed

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

By John Tamihere


Whānau Ora has been a Government policy since 2009 as a result of a coalition agreement signed with National and its coalition partners – The Maori Party, Act and United Future. Whānau Ora was initially adminsitered by Te Puni Kokiri (Ministry of Maori Development). It would be fair to suggest that after five years of Government delivery, Whānau Ora did not have a clear focus, clear measures or a clear definition.


Enter a new model of delivering services resulting from the Government seeking Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from providers. In 2014, the National Urban Maori Authority (NUMA) utilised the Waipareira backoffice support and ultimately won the contract to deliver Whānau Ora services into the North Island. Te Pou Matakana – the Whānau Ora Commisioning Agency for the North Island – was born.


The change in commissioning services measured the achievement of performance outcomes defined by each of the 13 Whānau Ora Lead Providers across the North Island. It was, and is a simple concept because it is not tightly regulative and doesn’t require legions of beauracrats to administer.


Also enter Whānau Tahi - a global leading info-metric company that administers a data warehouse and allows a full analysis of the Social Return on Investment (SROI). Site locations of this company in Wellington, Newmarket and Auckland’s Viaduct are now converging on Henderson. The new one-site location will open pre Xmas.


As well, any new policy requires monitoring through Research, Evaluation and Reportage that either confirms the practice is a good bang for buck and acheiving an outcome, or that the resources must be redeployed. There is enough money in Health, Welfare, Education and Justice that is not being deployed in a cooperative way. It is not community controlled and as a consequence too many people are paid to manage failure rather than to fix it.


Whānau Ora means family wellbeing. We can not have individuals or families being managed by Police, Courts, Corrections, CYFs, WINZ, school counsellors and others because these agencies have not collaborated successfully.


Whānau Ora requires accountability from several agencies. They are well-funded but demonstrate poor performance. The present way of managing vulnerable individuals and families has been broken for 50 years and Whānau Ora promises to ensure multiple investments centred on lifting the performance that most middle-class families take for granted.


We know we must drop youth offending. We know we must drop the volume of traffic to the criminal justice system. We know that is a very blunt crude and expensive way to manage failing individuals and families. Whānau Ora, via Te Pou Matakana – commissioning throughout the North Island is merely a catalyst for positive change.


But Whānau Ora can not work unless mainstream well-funded government agencies become more accountable, more transparent and perform.


One of the biggest problems in New Zeland is that we believe in a historical well-performed public service. Reality is, there is no such thing as a public service anymore – that went out with Rogernomics.