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Historic All Blacks loss: the reviews are in

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Historic All Blacks loss: the reviews are in

Aug 28 2022

Is the professional managerial class out of control?

Illustration: Daniel Blackball

Billions of dollars have been pumped into the public service, backed by the Labour government’s promise of a transformation of key sectors including health, education and welfare. The problem, argues Danyl McLauchlan in today’s Sunday Essay, is that most of that money is going to managers, analysts, comms staff and consultants, rather than much-needed frontline workers.

He traces New Zealand’s bloated public service bureaucracy to a political sphere that has become “increasingly therapeutic rather than material; it’s the politics of personal self-esteem, emotional wellbeing, self-expression, self validation, relentless positivity.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“Aren’t we seeing an erosion in state capacity alongside all this centralisation and expansion? Aren’t outcomes in health, education and welfare trending down rather than up? What’s going on? You can’t have effective public services without bureaucracies, but it’s not clear that the torrents of money flowing into them are delivering more value to the public or to the marginalised communities some of them are named after. It’s almost as if the primary role of the administrative state is shifting from serving the people to the redistribution of wealth to the staffers, lawyers, PR companies, managers and consultancy firms that work in them, or for them. A billion dollars a year in public sector consultancy is an awful lot of money when you’re running out of teachers and nurses because you don’t pay them enough, and the fire trucks are breaking down.

“I sound a little conspiratorial when I talk about this, as if there’s a smoky room filled with senior ministers, high-ranked public servants and partners at consultancy and law firms all laughing as they cut frontline services and stuff wads of cash into each other’s underpants. And a certain amount of this happens under every government. But I think there’s something else at work here.”

It’s a great piece and I really recommend reading the whole thing.

Return to despair for NZ after All Blacks’ historic loss

Richie Mo’unga leaves the field at half time in Christchurch last night. (Photo: Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The All Blacks’ loss to the Pumas last night in Christchurch has prompted an outpouring of despair from fans and rugby media alike, with many noting the pain was only worsened by the brief ray of hope that was New Zealand’s resounding win against the Springboks earlier this month.

Rugby correspondent Scotty Stevenson‘s response to our request for a review of last night’s match

Last night was Argentina’s first ever win on New Zealand soil, and the first time New Zealand have ever lost three tests in a row at home. Inevitably, calls for the dismissal of head coach Ian Foster are now louder than ever.

“It would not be over egging things to say the high priests of NZ Rugby must have felt like they had stumbled into a horror show, and become the main characters, after what unfolded in front of their eye,” wrote Richard Knowler on Stuff. “What a nightmare. So many questions will be asked, again, about whether Foster is the right man to be the coach of this team through to the World Cup.”

“The New Zealand Rugby board went evolution last week and deferred to their natural conservative mode by opting for a light touch change to the coaching team of elevating Joe Schmidt to attack coach,” wrote Gregor Paul in the NZ Herald.

“Perhaps they have to be thinking revolution now before it’s too late. The records can’t keep falling like this. A brand that was worth $3.5 billion at the start of the year must be tumbling in value and there needs to be an honest assessment that the hope that emerged in the wake of the All Blacks victory at Ellis Park, has shown itself to be false.”

Richie Mo’unga leaves the field at half time in Christchurch last night. (Photo: Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Overseas, the verdict was equally damning.

“The Wallabies don’t face the All Blacks for at least another fortnight but their chances of breaking a 20-year Bledisloe Cup hoodoo are increasing by the day after New Zealand’s barely believable loss,” wrote Tom Decent for the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Argentina’s victory in Christchurch showed that under Ian Foster, the All Blacks are finding ways to lose matches against teams they’ve always had the wood over.

“Under Foster, the All Blacks have lost six of their last eight tests. What does an All Blacks coach have to do to get sacked? Teams outside the top 10 wouldn’t stand for such standards.”

Wrote Stuart Barnes for The Times of London: “I never thought I would describe the All Blacks as dumb, but in Christchurch they were as stupid as Argentina were smart. The Pumas outfought their opponents and, perhaps even more significantly, they outthought what has long been the cleverest rugby nation on the planet.”