The State at Work, Volume 1

The State at Work, Volume 1

Public Sector Employment in Ten Western Countries

Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters

Representing the most extensive research on public employment, this volume explores the radical changes that have taken place in the configuration of national public services due to a general expansion of public employment that was followed by stagnation and decreases. Part-time employment and the involvement of women also increased as a component of the public sector and were linked to the most important growth areas such as the educational, health care and personal social services sectors. The two volumes that make up this study shed important insight on these changes.

Chapter 3: Breaking Sharply with the Past: Government Employment in New Zealand

Robert Gregory

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy

Extract

* Robert Gregory INTRODUCTION New Zealand is a country of 3.8 million people (at 1999). Its indigenous people are the Maori, probably of Pacific origins some 1000 years ago. From the early decades of the 19th century the country was colonized by Britain and thus became established as a constitutional monarchy with the British sovereign as Head of State (although sovereignty powers are exercised by a Governor-General), and with a Westminster model of representative government. New Zealand has a unitary system of government, with a unicameral Parliament. Unitary government has been constituted since 1876, when provincial governments were abolished. In the latter part of the nineteenth century the basis of a welfare state was created, administered almost exclusively by central government, which remains by far the dominant source of administrative power. New Zealand’s welfare state was consolidated and expanded greatly by the first Labour government, which held office between 1935 and 1949. During this period the Parliamentary process became dominated by two main political parties, Labour and National. Apart from two Parliamentary terms (1957–60 and 1972–75) when Labour held power after 1949, the National Party controlled the treasury benches until, in 1984, the fourth Labour government was elected to office under Prime Minister David Lange. Traditionally, New Zealand’s political culture has been marked by pragmatic expediency rather than ideological or doctrinaire commitment, and its political economy has commonly been depicted in the post-war years as something of a model of the modern ‘mixed economy’. Abstract ideological...

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