COMMENT:

The structure and legal basis of the Wellington bureaucracy may be among the most boring political topics but it is important right now to pay attention.

The coalition is promising the biggest shake-up of the public service since the landmark State Sector Act 1988.

This is probably not before time. The 1988 Act imagined a politically neutral public service, imbued with the spirit of service to the community and driven by a culture of excellence and efficiency, while providing free and frank advice to ministers and then faithfully implementing the policy decisions of the elected Government.

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Two things have