What a good idea: Plenipotentiary Advisory Review Looking Into All Matters Executive National Taskforce

Liam Hehir joins the chorus of media commentators unhappy with the government.

He writes at Stuff:

The Government has been criticised for being addicted to forming “working groups” to meet its policy needs.

Even Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint, hosted by John Campbell, has tweaked the Government for it. Introducing a story on the matter, Campbell pointed out the Government has “announced plans for a review, a working group, an advisory group, or an investigation” once every four days, on average, since assuming power.

Political scientist Bryce Edwards has criticised this as a timid Government “kicking for touch” on difficult issues.

At first, I agreed with Edwards. What’s with all of these outside panels? Isn’t it the job of the Government to govern? Haven’t these guys spent the past nine years telling us how great they would be at running things? Why do they need all this extra help? End of quote.

Because they are tits? Couldn’t organise a root in a brothel. Liam continues, explaining how working groups should be expanded into something workable:

Presently, working groups are formed on an ad hoc basis. We should be more systematic.

One of the problems with working groups is that, in the past, Governments have convened them and then ignored their recommendations. What’s the point of spending taxpayer funds for findings you just cast aside? It’s crazy.

To prevent this happening, I suggest that the working group be given real teeth. In the first place, the Government shouldn’t be allowed to pass new laws without the working group’s consent. In the second place, if a majority of the working group recommends something, it should, with one or two exceptions, become enforceable law.

Of course, if we’re going to do policy this way, we need to ensure the working group does not become a mere creature of the Government. We must see that a number of perspectives can be heard within the group. But this should also be balanced by the fact the Government has a mandate and so its agenda should prevail in the working group’s deliberations.

So, membership of the working group should generally be allocated according to each political party’s share of the vote in the most recent general election. If a party wins 40 per cent of the vote, it should be entitled to 40 per cent of the places on the working group. Pretty simple.

Of course, there’s a need to keep the crazies out. We should limit participation to those parties whose vote percentage crosses a certain threshold. Five per cent seems about right.

The delegates will need to have time to be able to study the issues. We want them to have their full attention on their work. This means we will need to pay them a professional salary commensurate with the importance of their work.

A base salary of $160,000 or so should do it. I know it’s not as much as some earn but, for most New Zealanders, it’s a high income. It’s certainly enough that, if you were paid it, you would be expected to do your job properly and take responsibility for being on top of issues.

The types of questions faced by a Government can be broad. This means we will need to ensure the working group has enough depth to get through the work. I would think at least 100 members. Even that many may be 20 per cent too low.

The working group should also be divided into subcommittees to look at particular subject areas. I suggest we need 11 or so subcommittees. The topics to be covered would span all areas of government concern, from finance and economic matters to science and culture.

These subcommittees would, in the usual course of events, be expected to seek public submissions. That would ensure that public-spirited subject-matter experts can give their views too. At the end of this process, the subcommittee would report to the full working group.

If we had such a body, appropriately remunerated and resourced, we could ensure all Government decisions were informed ones.

Of course, such an august working group needs a suitably impressive name. I suggest Plenipotentiary Advisory Review Looking Into All Matters Executive National Taskforce. We might need to shorten it for everyday use.

Maybe an acronym. End of quote.

Heh. So dry, so perfect… so real.

The government needs to govern – best they get on with it.

He is showing just how inept our current government are. Well done Liam. A great column.

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