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Watch: PM reveals nine Govt targets to be delivered by 2030

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Apr 2024, 3:53pm

Watch: PM reveals nine Govt targets to be delivered by 2030

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 8 Apr 2024, 3:53pm

Surgery wait-times, student achievement, less crime, and big reductions in welfare and emergency housing numbers are all part of Christopher Luxon’s nine new public service targets to be delivered by 2030 - which he says won’t be easy.

The Prime Minister released them today during his post-Cabinet press conference, saying they will require the public sector to think differently and do deep dives into the root causes of key issues.

“These targets are not going to be easy to achieve,” Luxon said.

“But we’re not here to do what is easy – we’re here to do what is needed to reduce crime, shorten healthcare wait times and improve educational achievement, no matter how difficult.”

The nine targets are:

- Shorter stays in emergency departments: 95 per cent of patients to be admitted, discharged, or transferred from an emergency department within six hours. This was almost at target level in early 2015, when 93 per cent patients were seen within six hours.

- Shorter wait times for (elective) treatment: 95 per cent of people wait less than four months for elective treatment. This was at target target level in 2015 and 2016.

- Reduced child and youth offending: 15 per cent reduction in the total number of children and young people with serious and persistent offending behaviour. This would see the number fall from its current level of about 1100 to about 900 children and young people.

- Reduced violent crime: 20,000 fewer people who are victims of an assault, robbery, or sexual assault. This will be measured in the New Zealand Crime and Victims’ Survey, and would be an 11 per cent drop from 2023 levels.

- Fewer people on the Jobseeker Support Benefit: 50,000 fewer people on Jobseeker Support Benefit. This would see the number fall by more than a quarter, from about 190,000 in December last year.

- Increased student attendance: 80 per cent of students are present for more than 90 per cent of the term. This coincides with the Government releasing its plan to reduce truancy, expected later this week.

- More students at expected curriculum levels: 80 per cent of Year 8 students at or above the expected curriculum level for their age in reading, writing and maths by December 2030. Only one cohort is at the target levels, which currently are: maths (82 per cent in Year 4 and 42 per cent in Year 8), writing (63 per cent and 35 per cent) and reading (63 per cent and 56 per cent).

- Fewer people in emergency housing: 75 per cent reduction of households in emergency housing. This would reduce the number of households using emergency housing to early 2018 levels. The number had ballooned in December 2023 to 3100 households and 3186 children in emergency housing; 60 per cent had been there for over 12 weeks.

- Reduced net greenhouse gas emissions: On track to meet New Zealand’s 2050 net zero climate change targets, with total net emissions of no more than 290 megatonnes from 2022 to 2025 and 305 megatonnes from 2026 to 2030.

The targets come as the Government looks to find 6.5 to 7.5 per cent savings across government agencies and departments, a move that critics say will have downstream impacts on frontline services despite what Luxon has said about those being protected.

They also come as workforce challenges loom in critical sectors including police, teachers and medical professionals.

Luxon said the targets were “deliberately ambitious”.

“They will be challenging and require the public sector to think differently, dig deeply into root causes, learn from other places, and be innovative and disciplined in directing resources to where they will have the greatest impact on outcomes.”

Delivery of the targets is the responsibility of a lead minister and lead public service agency chief executive, working in partnership with other ministers and their agencies as appropriate. Progress reports will be released publicly every quarter, starting from mid-2024.

Public sector job cuts

This week MPs return to Parliament after a one week recess to begin an unusual one week sitting block. It is the first sitting block since the Government announced its first quarterly plan last week, meaning we should see some legislation introduced to deliver on those plans.

Cabinet meetings are expected to be contentious this month, as ministers finalise the Budget due for delivery in May. Luxon is meant is likely to face questions on what is in the Budget and the extent to which public sector cuts are needed to pay for his tax plan.

Today, the Ministry for the Environment became the latest department to announce cost-saving measures.

Staff were told redundancies are “likely” as agencies rush to fund savings, which the Government hopes to turn into a saving of $1.5 billion a year.

Agencies are tasked with finding savings between 6.5 and 7.5 per cent to trim off their budgets, which, at numerous ministries, is resulting in proposals putting jobs on the line. The Environment Ministry needs to slash 7.5 per cent from certain lines of funding, with final sign-off to be made by the Government in relation to the upcoming Budget next month.

A voluntary redundancy scheme has opened at the Ministry, with no set target for uptake.

Luxon is also likely to give his view on immigration changes announced over the weekend. Immigration Minister Erica Stanford made immediate changes to the Accredited Employer Worker Visa, to respond to what the Government called unsustainable levels of inward migration.

In 2023, a near-record 173,000 non-New Zealand citizens migrated to the country.

The changes to the work visa scheme include introducing an English-language requirement for migrants applying for low-skilled jobs.

Stanford said the changes focus on using the local labour market first, while still attracting high-skilled migrants where there are skill shortages.

“Getting our immigration settings right is critical to this Government’s plan to rebuild the economy,” she said on Sunday in a statement.

This story was originally published on the Herald, here

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