David Seymour turns into a pre-emptive Bauble-Buster with advice for other political parties

ACT Leader David Seymour is offering other parties some helpful advice on baubles: slash them.

“Winston Peters campaigned on reducing the number of MPs in parliament, but he has got ahead of himself. MPs are there to hold the Ministers and their departments to account. If we want more accountability we should start by slashing the number of Ministers, not the number of MPs holding them accountable,” says Mr Seymour.

“There’s 60-odd opposition MPs holding 28 Ministers, 40,000 bureaucrats, and a quarter-million government employees accountable. If you want to reduce Government, you’d have to be gaga to start by cutting the opposition MPs.

“On the other hand, there are 28 Ministers with 76 portfolios and most of them are redundant.

“I have shown (below) how we could get down to only 35 portfolios held by 20 Ministers in Cabinet. Winston, who created ministers outside cabinet and the baubles of office, could now fix the mistake.

“I defy anyone to explain why we need a Minister for Climate Change, a Minister for Conservation, and a Minister for the Environment. Those three should be merged to one person accountable for New Zealand’s environmental performance.

“We have a Minister for Building and Housing, a Minister for Building and Construction, and a Minister for Social Housing. What we don’t have is an adequate supply of housing, what we need is one person who’s responsible for fixing that.

“How much of the Communications, Transport, and Tourism sectors do not come under Infrastructure? They should all be merged into the infrastructure portfolio so we can hold someone to account for our country’s chronic underinvestment in infrastructure that has affected all of these areas.

“Then there are the small fry: It is absurd to have a Minister for Broadcasting alongside a Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage. How is Broadcasting not part of Arts, Culture, and Heritage?

“We don’t have Ministers for Rugby or Beer, so why do we have a Minister of Racing? Come to that, does anyone think that the Minister of Sport is anything more than an excuse to get free tickets?”

“The Commerce portfolio has been treated like a joke, often given to low ranking Ministers outside cabinet with little knowledge of business. It should be merged with small business (how is Small Business not Commerce?) and Workplace Relations and Safety. Then the portfolio should be taken seriously.

“Then there are the ‘population’ portfolios, Ethnic Affairs, Maori, Pacific Peoples, Youth, Seniors, and Women. Who needs them? Not the populations involved, who get their Health, Education, and Infrastructure from real Ministers like everyone else. So who needs these portfolios? That’s easy: The Governing Party who wish to have their representative given the highest status at whatever population based event is on that weekend.

“I have spent three years as Under-Secretary to the Minister for Regulatory Reform. I am proud to have changed the Cabinet Manual so that Regulatory Impact Analysis will be taken more seriously. This will improve the quality of all lawmaking, but I could never work out what the Minister for Regulatory Reform did besides try to take the credit for my work. The Regulatory Reform portfolio should go, any Government that’s serious about the topic would just pass ACT’s Regulatory Responsibility Bill.

“Anyway,” says Mr Seymour, “There is a golden opportunity for a reset on the untidy array of Ministers, make Government more accountable, and save taxpayer money. However, I fear that the coalition negotiations will throw up an even worse potpourri of portfolios created for political purposes rather than serving the public.”

In light of recent editorialising on David Seymour’s decisions, actions and communications, I’m going to just hand this over to our commenters.

 


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