“How the Ministry manages their fiscal pressures and efficiency dividend is of course an operational matter for management. I expect to be consulted on the Chief Executive’s proposals for how Te Puni Kokiri continues to deliver the most effective services to the public, within the budget they have been allocated,” he said.
Firstly, passing the ball to management is a cop out. But most importantly, Sharples statement is, if one reads between or beyond the lines, a couched endorsement of the cuts. The Maori Party made no secret of their intentions to reform TPK, but I don’t think anyone knew their intentions were to cut jobs.
Winston Peters continues to hammer away at the Maori Party. He accuses the party of gutting TPK as a trade off for increased funding for Whanau Ora. Parekura Horomia also highlights the inadequacy of the Maori Party’s “at the table” argument. Horomia notes that as a Minister outside of Cabinet Sharples was unable to fight for the survival of TPK when Cabinet, or the appropriate Cabinet Committee, was thrashing out the details. However, that logic assumes the Maori Party actually wanted restructuring at TPK to be neutral, meaning no cuts, no increases, just a reshuffle. I tend to think the Maori Party supported cuts all along.
The Maori Party isn’t attacking National’s decision to impose cuts, nor is the party publicly lobbying for cuts to be deferred or cancelled. Instead, the party has remained silent, bar Sharples one statement expressing support for people who are about to lose their jobs. It appears the Maori Party wanted this, they just don’t want to wear the consequences. Hence Sharples attempt to deflect this as an operational matter.
What support the Maori Party clawed back with their threat to leave National has now evaporated. I struggle to see how the party has any future post-2014.