Public Service Survival From A Few Week’s Ago On RNZ Insight

One of the things I like to write about is the difference between how people think power is distributed in New Zealand as opposed to how it actually is distributed.

The common narrative places politicians – elected every 3 years – at the top of the pyramid in terms of political power. The more realistic situation is that for every policy, someone in Wellington starts with a blank Word document.

Every so often, the genuine political power base speaks out when something offends them. This Radio New Zealand Insight program is a direct “insight” into what public servants think “free and frank” advice means and how the National government is apparently “harming democracy” by creating an environment where senior public officials supposedly are scared of speaking their minds to Ministers.

There is also a really good meta explanation of the public service – it “protects the public from politicians” (to roughly paraphrase) and it “serves democracy”. This is lofty stuff.

I can’t believe I missed this. Sometimes the evidence is hiding in plain sight. The election this year is a distraction, the real election was the incoming crop of policy analysts across all departments and agencies.  Have a listen: