If you go back a generation or so, the officials provided the advice and the Ministers took the heat. The change since the turn of the millennium is palpable - officials are part of the political process, not advisors to it.
Until I read this this morning, I hadn't realised there's a new Public Service Act in the works. It could be interesting to see if it'll have any meaningful effect.
Vitamin K helps with brodifacoum poisoning, which is what they were imagining they'd been exposed to whilst protesting next to a brodi drop. ("I feel sick. It must be the brodifacoum over there which I'm protesting against!!!!", and all that.) Vets will usually give vitamin K to a dog if they suspect the dog's eaten a brodi-poisoned carcass.
It is marvel of the type, full of the simple rejection of inconvenient science through the creation from thin air of nebulous conspiracy theories.
There's a whole sub-culture of science denial and conspiracy nutters in NZ if you look in the right places. Sometimes it's politically charged, but it doesn't need to be. Modern social media helps these people to find each other and accelerates the paranoia. Without meaning to suggest there aren't sometimes legitimate concerns, it comes up a lot in arguments about pest control (on the level of DOC, OSPRI, councils, etc), which I spend a fair amount of time watching and interacting with. eg. This group, which is basically rallied through facebook, had their day in the Court of Appeal yesterday, having been more or less laughed out of the earlier courts, and are now awaiting a decision. Dave Hansford's description of their lawyer from the linked article is:
By late afternoon on the day of the drop, Brook activists were posting on Facebook that they were succumbing to poisoning: lawyer for the group, Sue Grey, complained that her "exposed skin was red and burning", and urged her compatriots: "If my health suddenly deteriorates please can someone make sure that I get an urgent injection of Vitamin K."
It behoves us to understand just what the hell is going on here, because solutions to the monumental problems we have to solve – climate change, biodiversity loss, water pollution, human health – can only be informed by science.
At the risk of sounding stupid because I haven't thought this through, maybe there's merit in some kind of independent parliamentary commissioner role who's legislatively charged with investigating, reporting on and potentially enforcing the independence of the public service? (Maybe comparable with other independent roles like the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.)
If we want the decisions in our country to be evidence based, then it’s incumbent on us to force Ministers to resign over bad decisions, not Chief Executives.
Probably, but I wonder if there's a better way to reinforce the separation of Ministers from the public service, before it comes to resigning, than just tell Ministers they have to resign all the time.
Even if this had been allowed to come out when the Minister concerned was in office, there's such a small pool of candidates (elected MPs) that disgraced Ministers often just end up being re-hired as Ministers again a year or two later. The mechanism for generating the short-list is a popularity contest so we're always going to get idiot Ministers from time, but in the end someone has to do that Ministerial job.
I don't know how to do it, but ideally we'd simply have a system that held public servants to account fairly, but also protected public servants from unwarranted Ministerial wrath without requiring the Ministers themselves to be acting to high standards.
What Paula Bennett said was not conveying any official advice.
Paula Bennet's just repeated to John Campbell (about 5.10pm'ish) that she was following official advice.
Also (Russell), John's just name-dropped you in his response.
In my experience, public servants are trained to be risk averse above all else.
Wouldn't the agency's Chief Executive have a strong effect on setting the agency's tone, though? If so and if agencies are getting it wrong, is it not the CE's or the SSC which employs them who are a big part of the problem rather than public servants generally?
I guess it in part comes down to whether we're talking about averting risk of getting something wrong (or able to be interpreted badly), or averting risk of the Minister's wrath by contradicting what a Minister wants for their own political reasons.
In either situation, though, if a Chief Executive is willing to stand up to a Minister and world, and back their staff to produce work and advice which mightn't be to everyone's taste, I'd have thought that would make a strong impression on the output of the staff they employ.
Stratford said more research should be done and jumping to conclusions based on the current science was "reckless".
Muuuust ... get .... government ... to ... keeeep ... loooking ....until .. it .... finds ... evidence ..... to ... vaaaalidaate .... industry.....!
Stratford was talking in that interview, of overseas research, but he didn't offer to provide it to RNZ. I wonder why not?
That occurred to me, too. Without clearly citing it he's just spouting vacuous rubbish. I was disappointed that Espiner didn't press him into specifying what this magical international research was so it could be presented to Gluckman et al for a useful response.