“Fresh from declaring inflation a pandemic without knowing inflation is 7.2 per cent, and saying co-Government is misunderstood without knowing what the Treaty says, Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins has made another gaffe, this time not knowing how many public servants there are,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Hipkins told AM that ‘the overall number of public servants as a proportion of the workforce, it’s actually stayed the same or is even slightly smaller than it was when we became a government. Population has grown. So yes, the number of public servants we have has grown.’

“That’s wrong. As the Public Service Commission, for which Hipkins is Minister, says ‘the current Public Service remains 27.8% (or 13,130 FTEs) bigger than in 2017.’ Has the workforce as a whole grown that fast? Not even close, Statistics New Zealand reports there were 2,095,000 wage and salary earners in 2017, by 2022 that was up 9.4 per cent to 2,290,000.

“Hipkins may have realised he was wrong, and tried to save himself by saying ‘Actually, not since we became government, over the longer time period. We’ve kind of caught up with population growth.’

“That’s wrong again. The number of Public Servants compared with the rest of the workforce is at an all time high under this Government. Last year there were 26 public servants for every thousand workers. That compares with 21 in the year 2000, 24 when the Clark Government left office, and 23 Ardern took power.

“If Public Service numbers returned to the same ratio as this Government inherited, there would be eight thousand fewer bureaucrats. If they returned to the same ratio as the early Clark years, there would be 13,000 fewer.

“The truth is that the bureaucracy is out of control, and it doesn’t just cost taxpayers, their activities are often damaging. Bureucracy ties citizens up in red tape and keeps New Zealand poorer than it would otherwise be. That’s why there needs to be a serious reduction in the size and scope of Government.

“Sadly, if today's interviews are anything to go by, Hipkins is going to defend the status quo. Bureaucrats are a core constituency for Labour and it will fall to the next government to make real change.

“ACT is the only Party that’s published a fully costed alternative budget, and it would reduce Public Service numbers to the same level Labour inherited, 47,000 Full Time Equivalents.”

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David Seymour