Increasing politicisation of the public service needs urgent action

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Government ministers need to be well-informed to make good decisions for New Zealand - and urgent action’s needed to ensure they get the best advice, the PSA says.

Research by Professor Chris Eichbaum and Professor Richard Shaw for the New Zealand Institute of Public Administration highlights increasing concerns about the role of ministerial advisors.

It shows growing concern that ministerial advisors intervene in the relationship between senior public servants and ministers - and that ministers have been reluctant to accept free and frank advice.

"We are concerned at the findings of this survey, which echo what our members in the public service have been telling us for some time," PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says.

"For public servants, giving free, frank and fearless advice is not just their job - it’s their constitutional duty.

"The IPANZ report indicates some ministerial advisors have been acting as gatekeepers, and public servants are self-censoring as a result.

"This is very worrying."

Mr Barclay says the recently-released code of conduct for ministerial advisors should make a difference.

"In addition, we would like a clear statement of intent from the new government about how it intends to address these issues.

"The PSA would like the State Services Commission to lead a wide discussion around these areas, and give public servants the chance to be heard.

"New Zealanders need a government that’s well informed - and a free, frank and fearless public service is the only way to achieve that."