Do we really want more of this taxing business of trying to talk to IRD people?

Dunno if The Boss has paid his taxes on line recently.

Mrs Grumble gave it a go, a week or so ago.

Her bank statement shows the transaction was successful and the money finished up in the hands of the Government, no doubt to help provide domestic purposes benefits for fecund females with a greater urge to fornicate than find jobs.

She has received two letters from IRD since then.

They remind her that her payment is now overdue.

Phoning the IRD to try to sort things out resulted in her being advised about the advantages of enrolling in voice ID .

Then she had to answer questions put to her by a recorded voice.

It’s a tiresome and vexing procedure.

It makes a joke of public “service”.

But The Boss wants us to have more of this sort of thing.

And so – according to a report at Stuff –

Technology will replace face-to-face contact as the Government continues its squeeze on the public service.

Prime Minister John Key has met executives from internet giant Google as plans to shake up the public sector gather steam.

Virtual jobs will replace staff as the sector moves away from frontline services to call centres and online interaction.

Online interaction, Alf supposes, is this business of talking to a bloody machine.

Why The Boss thinks we might want more – not less – of the frustrations and vexations that go with talking to machines is a bloody mystery. But –

Mr Key said yesterday that people wanted to use their smartphones to apply for passports and other tasks, rather than wait in line in offices.

“It really doesn’t matter if there is a street frontage there … We are living in an age where kids have iPads and smartphones. That’s the modern generation … and they actually don’t want to walk in, for the most part, and be in a very long queue and be waiting for a long time.”

Alf imagines he has become an enthusiast for all this because he personally does not have to engage in infuriating conversations with machines that keep us from sorting out the problems created by our on-line transactions.

He no doubt has a flunkey who does that for him.

His computerising, digitalising, or whatever of the public service is all being done in the name of fiscal belt-tightening, of course.

And in the name of getting rid of more public servants who, for the most part, are apt to vote Labour.

He foreshadowed more mergers and job losses, as the Government continues its quest to slash $1 billion from the state sector. More than 2500 public service jobs have been cut in the past three years.

He will outline proposals in a keynote speech later this month, apparently, and says he will “make no apology” for trying to make the public service more efficient.

If we finish up with a more efficient public service as well as a budget surplus, Alf will be the first to celebrate.

He is sceptical.

He also is loathe to suggest Labour state services spokesman Chris Hipkins might have a better grasp of the awful realities than The Boss.

Hipkins has warned

…that vulnerable people, such as the elderly and low-income families who might not have access to technology, might slip through the cracks. Others would “spend hours on hold, talking to digitally automated answering services”.

Is that what we taxpayers really want (although, fair to say, we also want to pay less tax)?

With regards to this –

There was speculation last week that a proposed $1b computer system would allow Inland Revenue to cut 1000 jobs.

The down side is likely to be more letters from IRD advising that Mrs Grumble’s account shows an overdue amount of much too much, and here is a breakdown including penalties and interest to date…

And please send the payment immediately, using the attached slip (the good old-fashioned way that she should have stuck to instead of going on line) or she can drop the payment into the nearest Westpac bank.

And how many Westpac banks are there in Eketahuna?

None.

Nor do we have any other bank.

Oh, there’s another option. Mrs Grumble can pay online.

But that’s where her troubles began.

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