Public Service must remain free, frank and fearless - PSA


Any moves to politicise the public service will be strongly opposed by unions and public servants as bad for New Zealand and New Zealanders, the PSA says.

PSA National Secretaries Erin Polaczuk and Glenn Barclay have expressed deep concerns about comments by Regional Development Minister Shane Jones, calling for politicians to have more control over public servants.

"Mr Jones’ view of the public service is outdated, out of touch and - frankly - out of order," Mr Barclay and Ms Polaczuk say.

"The measures he suggests would undermine public servants’ constitutional role.

"They need to be free, frank and fearless - not controlled, cowed and cronyistic."

Ms Polaczuk and Mr Barclay say Mr Jones’ use of the word ‘bureaucratic’ is reminiscent of the previous government’s attacks on public servants.

"Our members do their jobs with commitment and integrity - despite increasing workloads, unending restructuring and a meaningless staffing cap.

"New Zealand is rated at the very top of Transparency International’s list of the least corrupt countries in the world.

"Cronyism and political interference would severely damage that reputation.

"If Mr Jones is concerned about delays, then he needs to direct his considerable energies towards influencing the government to lift the cap on public service staffing.

"And while he’s at it, he should push for the government to relax the Budget Responsibility Rules - so the damage of nine years of underfunding can be repaired, and real change begin."


NZ has fewer public servants per capita and as a % of the total workforce than most other OECD countries - we are well under the OECD average. (see:

For example, here in NZ core government administration makes up just 12.39% of total employment - compared to 18.4% in Australia, 18.98% in Canada and 23.4% in the UK. In the Scandinavian countries it sits in the mid 30’s - eg Dk 34.89.

And NZers are more satisfied with the public services they receive than the OECD average. (see: