This Government wants to do things differently. After years in opposition, they know where changes could improve outcomes for the time and money invested by departments and Crown entities.
Changes to policy and legislation are required. They've been prepared to undertake full-scale reviews with many now under way, some already completed or nearing completion.
Right from the start, the Government signalled change was needed in many areas, particularly in the social service sector. But changes to enable a more business-friendly and commerce-enabling environment are to be explored too. The Government knows any changes to the way it does business must be underpinned by hard data, relevant information and an honest appraisal of the current situation.
I thought it must have been a mistake when I read the Government had identified at least 39 reviews, 10 inquiries and 127 working groups. So I went looking. They're there alright, heaps of them including increasing Government transparency, reviewing the Walking Access Act, Whanau Ora, Three Waters, Family Court, Child Poverty, Department of Internal Affairs, Mental Health System, Tax, State Care Abuse, Health & Disability, Electricity, NCEA, Fair Pay. The list stretches on and on. The Government hasn't wasted any time getting them under way. They have made appointments and agreed on Terms of Reference. Work, including encouraging the panels to consult widely, has started. They are taking a good hard look at what's currently being done but more importantly to dive deep to see where changes need to be made. Better government services, faster is one of the priority outcomes desired.
There were numerous derogatory comments made when the reviews, inquiries and working groups were first announced. The opposition got in first with their criticism followed closely by many media commentators. How many reviews, inquiries and working groups does it take to get on and run the country? What was Labour doing all those years in opposition, what more does it need to know?
Perhaps the Opposition doesn't know or has forgotten after so many years as government, that in opposition you do get briefings but never the complete picture. Governments can be quite unhelpful when it comes to sharing information. In opposition Labour would have had to do its own delving, surmising and research. But it had the advantage of getting direct feedback from consumers, service users and the public about what wasn't working. How things could and should be done differently and better.
I'm pleased the Government hasn't rushed in, change for change sake, and is taking its time. If you want changes to be of real lasting benefit, they must be well researched.
Thankfully the Government has resisted the temptation to "tinker" with policy. Small changes that don't really make much difference. A review can come up with recommendations, fully explored for viability and achievability. None of this "once over lightly, wait and see how it goes" approach.
Now there are hundreds of good people: talented and capable New Zealanders, stepping up to help the Government get it right. They'll be from different political parties too.
When you have the opportunity to work as a panel or inquiry member and undertake reviews that will come up with recommendations that can make a difference to the quality of people's lives, you want to help. Who wouldn't want to help improve standards of living and enhance individual and family wellbeing?
We have people prepared to put aside party politics and think of the good of the wider community. Not all are eminent New Zealanders with specialist knowledge. Community members make up the numbers too. They are specialists with community knowledge. Invariably they know what works well and what doesn't. There would have been many changes they wanted to see a courageous government make over the years. Tackle hard issues. Now they can assist in getting it right.
A government doesn't have all the answers. It can't do it on its own. Not with the scale of change New Zealand requires.
The reviews and inquiries currently taking place are an example of collaboration. Experts in business, community development, social service delivery and environmental issues, working together and consulting widely, to eventually present their findings and recommendations.
To a government that wants to ensure New Zealanders doesn't just survive but that we thrive as well.