3 Reasons Why Public Service should Vote TOP

TOP promises to be a fearless advocate for an independent, transparent public service. Here’s three reasons for the public service to Vote TOP. 

Free, Frank & Fearless

Part of the reason our country is in this mess is because successive governments have followed their dogma, rather than the advice of the public service. TOP 100% backs the PSA’s tag line of Free, Frank and Fearless. We want a public service that is independent, transparent, and that serves the public first and foremost, rather than the interests of Ministers. How do we achieve this?

The Official Information Act needs a refresh, starting with putting all reports and Cabinet papers online as a matter of course. Officials should be able to make it clear publicly when Ministers have not followed their advice, as happens currently with the Government Statistician. In the long term we want to see a written constitution that embeds the independence of the public service.

Valuing Expertise

We want people in the public service to have their voices heard. Most people involved want to do the best possible job for the public, but often politicians and politics get in the way. Transport is a good example, politicians of all hues are busy playing pork barrel politics promising all sorts of pet projects. This isn’t a game of Sim City; the whole idea of the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) was to get grubby political hands off these incredibly important and expensive projects and leave it to the experts.

Teachers are another good example – no one can claim that they are doing it for the money. They want to make a difference to young lives and we should empower them to do so, not burden them with administration to prove their value.

TOP wants to empower the public service to do the best job possible. We want to shunt the risk-averse culture, and ensure people are rewarded for good ideas.

This devolution of power follows nicely with our position on the Treaty of Waitangi. The concept of rangatiratanga fits well with giving people more say over the issues that affect them. Local Government in particular should have more powers and necessary funding.  

TOP values our public service. We will not describe them as ‘shiny bums’ as Winston does. We want to attract the best possible talent to our public sector. Teachers, nurses, and all public sector workers deserve greater respect from politicians.  


TOP’s perspective on public service funding is that we should fund projects that demonstrate a good return on investment. By return on investment we mean, broadly speaking, taking into account the economic, social, and environmental costs and benefits. This is how the social investment approach should work; we should look at all the evidence and work out if a project is creating assets, not just reducing the government’s liabilities.

TOP doesn’t think the government should be constrained by debt targets, or promises to keep spending under a certain percentage of GDP. If New Zealand deals with its long-term issues (health and super) then our balance sheet provides plenty of room to move. If it works, let’s do it, and if it works well, let’s do more. If it doesn’t work, let’s get rid of it.

In TOP’s view there is plenty of poor quality government spending that could be allocated more effectively in the short term. There are also clearly better investments that are in urgent need of more funding; drug and alcohol treatment and home insulation are good examples where there is a fantastic return on investment yet the Government has continued to restrict funding.

If the public service can demonstrate good return on investment, TOP thinks we should back them to deliver.