Saturday, December 23, 2023

Perce Harpham: Be Careful About Ideology

In the desirable rush to reverse so many of the undesirable things introduced by the previous Government I am concerned that they may simply be destroyed and the monies spent will be completely wasted. 

This concern arises from the Prime Minister commenting that the costs will be high because 5 year employment contracts will have to be paid out. 

Yes the costs will be high but surely the issue is not as simple as that. Ordinary workers may not get any redundancy pay if a business closes down or shrinks unless they have a specific redundancy clause in their contract. And when a contract is terminated the normal cost of doing so depends on the damage caused to the other party. So if the damaged party can get an equal or better paying job immediately then there is no damage unless there are relocation costs or similar issues. 

Consider the Three Waters debacle. There are complicated legal matters about the whole issue which should be pursued. For example the conventions and laws surrounding the establishment of the project appear to have been ignored. Staff appointments were at least advertised, if not made, before the enabling legislation had been passed. I will not pursue that here but there are possible issues of liability for the resulting costs lying with the Ministers, MPs and others. 

I have a concern with the capabilities of some of the senior people recruited because if they were to run an organisation structured as set out in the Act they must have appreciated the problems, uncertainty and delay of having to consult with Iwi and down to the Hapu level. As a result they should not have accepted a position where they could not deliver the proposed result. Water runs downhill regardless of political boundaries. 

Nonetheless, some of the contracts must now have run a significant amount of time so will not require 5 year payouts. And there should have been some significant engineering planning performed so that some consultation could commence. If this is the case then some of the costs so far may be able to be saved. 

The problems used to justify the Three Waters Act remain. Apart from the politics the solutions are engineering issues. What is required is a re-establishment of the Works Department which was destroyed in the political fervour of 1984. Hopefully there will be some in the Three Waters organisation who would be capable of filling valuable roles in such an organisation and building on whatever of value has already been done. So if they accept new jobs in the new department then they do not have to be paid anything like the full amount of any 5 year contract - indeed some will no doubt be better off. 

Let us acknowledge the political mistakes and profit from them as far as is possible rather than “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”

Perce Harpham, a retired businessman, was a pioneer of the New Zealand computer industry. 


N B H said...

Totally agree find other positions for them and if they dont like it then to bad,move on, they knew when they took the contracts it would probably be shut down.

Scott said...

I am pleased that the government is fulfilling their election promises and scrapping things like three waters. The writer is correct that there is some disruption and putting something better in place will take time and effort. But there is no use throwing good money after bad. Three waters was a terrible idea.

CXH said...

Or use the method when trying to revive Apple. Ask for a resignation. If it is not forthcoming, promote them to a position that is beyond them. Their egos will be unable to turn it down.

Then, three months later fire them for non-performance.

robert Arthur said...

It seems to me at the senior levels a major incentive for many positions is the possibility of early termination and the associated windfall. Do not have to plan for or live through the organisation's future. I suspect this consideration often exceeds the persons self recognised abiity to do the job or not. I could quote very many illustrations but with their giant windfalls could easily sue me. Several still there should not be and they must be puzzling just how much they have to do wrong or ineffectually to qualify for the prize. Seems the Labour established maori run organisations were a sure bet.

Tinman said...

"Find other positions for them"?

These are Labour appointees who knew, at the outset, that Labour and Three Waters were dead ducks.

Each and every one of them would struggle to get a job as Deputy Assistant Shithouse Cleaner - although that's the appointment they should get.