Tuesday 30 April 2019

Around the traps

  • Me at Newsroom ($) on coalition politics and the Capital Gains Tax. I wonder whether Labour wasn't rather pleased to be able to blame Winston for not progressing the thing. Ungated here.

  • Me at The Spinoff on the job creation claims around the Provincial Growth Fund. Where I'd worried that MBIE was delaying my OIA so they could backfill workings onto some high-looking job creation numbers, reality was far less complicated. Why they took so long to release things is up in the air, but all they did was take the lower bound of the job creation estimates provided by the grant applicants and added them together. Dunno why it took months to tell me that. 

  • In our Insights newsletter, I wonder whether Treasury's Heartwork game were a parody. But I fear the answer is no. I'm told that Treasury's Intranet, last Wednesday, included this bit.
    What's all the fuss about Heartwork?

    Wednesday 24 April 2019

    Over the last couple of weeks, you might have read or heard about criticism being levelled at the Treasury for its involvement with training organisation Heartwork, who’ve run several workshops with small groups of our staff as well as an external event at our premises last week.

    You will already know the importance the Treasury places on staff wellness, diversity and inclusion, and building capability of our people. We have many initiatives underway to help achieve our objectives in each of these key areas.

    Our workshops with Heartwork were a small trial to see what benefit we - as individuals, teams and as an organisation - might gain from their approach to incorporating empathy in our dealings with others.

    In providing the venue for last week's event, organised and run by Heartwork, the Treasury provided an opportunity for others interested in this approach to gather together and talk about their thoughts and experiences. Providing a venue for groups to gather for presentations and discussion about aspects of wellbeing is one way in which the Treasury can help promote diversity of thinking and common understanding.

    Contrary to the rhetoric of critics, the importance of empathy and communication skills in business is well established – and our stakeholders are asking this of us. Engaging effectively with a broad range of New Zealanders, and collaborating productively with our peers across the public sector, is also core to our ability to provide policy advice well. We will continue to focus on growing these and other skills in our people.

    Finally, to give you clarity around one of the comments made in the media: the Treasury's involvement in these workshops, and with the event held here last week, is in no way related to the government’s Wellbeing approach or Budget 2019. It has been an internal capability-building exercise.
    The response doesn't really address the 'why the heck is this a Treasury priority when you have rather bigger problems' concern raised in my NBR column of the prior week. My probity questions of Treasury, posted here, are now an OIA request with a due date of 20 May. But I guess we now know that it was a Heartwork event at Treasury rather than an event Treasury commissioned.

    If you haven't yet read Danyl Maclaughlin's write-up of the event, you really really should. It may leave you somewhat sceptical about the whole thing. Point of Order on Treasury's Heartwork game is also worth a look.

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