The key to Key’s new targets will be in the presentation – so let’s give gunge a go

But it shouldn’t be so much fun for chief executives who fail.

Alf’s idea for cutting the numbers of long-term beneficiaries obviously has not been picked up.

The Government will be doing it the hard way, instead, trimming the numbers bit by bit over a long period.

Its decision is reported in the Herald here today –

The Government wants 23,000 fewer long-term beneficiaries on its books by 2017 and the head of Work and Income could lose a bonus if the target is not achieved.

The welfare target is among 10 specific targets the Government has set for the public sector to achieve over five years in policy relating to welfare, vulnerable children, crime, skills and employment, and digital advances.

These targets look suspiciously like a wish list to the hard-working member for Eketahuna North.

But nah…The Boss has to be believed on these matters, and he says they are not a wish-list – “they are a to-do list”.

Some would be very hard to achieve, he conceded. But with focus they could be reached.

He’s a firm believer in focus, is The Boss.

“We want targets that are going to stretch the ability of the public sector to deliver them, and will force change. This is not an exercise in ticking boxes.”

And if we falter with our focus?

Hmm. Politically, that could fuck us.

The welfare target relates to people on unemployment-related benefits, the sickness benefit, women-alone benefits and sole parents and widows whose youngest children are over 14.

All of these categories are to be given a flash new name – they will be called “job seeker support” from July next year.

Alf rather fancied being put in charge of the project, but that job has gone to Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

Bill has foreshadowed some law changes to keep law-drafting officials in jobs, so they don’t become candidates for job seeker support.

These laws will make public sector chief executives accountable for achieving the targets and give them more flexibility to achieve them.

That could mean greater control over their budgets and being able to make changes to programmes that aren’t working and trying new ones.

“In the longer run if a department is not playing its role and doesn’t appear to be focused on it, that will be taken into account in the performance assessment of those managers.”

The Ministers and their chief executives are being kept busy, too.

They are working on action plans to implement the targets (talk of “action plans” always goes down well in the Eketahuna Club when Alf is reporting back on how his constituents’ taxes are being spent).

The targets will be published, along with regular updates on the progress of each target.

Dunno what sort of publicity is envisioned.

Alf has suggested something flashy on the telly once a week, a bit like Lotto, with great-looking big-busted sheilas in skimpy clothing aiding and abetting the presenter.

Someone like Paul Holmes could be the presenter, if his ticker is up to it.

He would stand in front of a model of The Beehive on a stage with all the relevant departmental chief executives seated on each side.

One of his skimpily clad assistants would brandish a target – the target for a reduction in job beneficiaries, for example.

There would be a drum roll.

The achieved number, written on a marble, would come rolling down the front steps of a model of The Beehive.

One of the great-looking, big-busted and scantily sheilas would pick it up and flaunt it to the TV audience.

Depending on the result, a pile of dollar bills would flutter down upon the chief executive…

Or he/she would have a few buckets of gunge dumped on them.

And then the relevant Ministers could come tripping down the steps to answer a few cheeky questions from Paul.

Actually, Alf is tempted to have a special seat on stage for Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott.

Whatever showed up on the marble, she would have the gunge tipped on her each week.

That’s because she is not getting into the spirit of this.

She is quibbling about how The Boss can reconcile his targets with a “slash-and-burn approach” to the public service.

“It’s interesting to hear John Key talk about setting ambitious targets for the public service while … his Government is taking millions of dollars out the public sector and forcing government departments to do more and more with less and less.”

Already 2500 public-sector jobs had been lost, with a resulting reduction of services to the public as a result.

Alf supposes these 2500 lost jobs will make it a bit tougher to reach employment-related targets through the process endorsed by the Cabinet.

His idea – of course – would have achieved the target much faster.

It would be cheaper, too.

It was simply to pile all beneficiaries on to airplanes with one-way tickets to places like Zimbabwe and Syria.

The prospect of making this journey, he suspects, would provide a powerful incentive to get them foregoing their claims to welfare payouts even if they don’t have jobs.

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