Treasury loses the plot

The run up to the Budget is normally a very busy time for Treasury staff, as the final document has to be finalised, checked, printed, proof read and then distributed to literally thousands of readers. This year in particular, with the government’s first ever ‘Wellbeing Budget’ due out next month, you might be forgiven for thinking that things would be even busier than usual.

Treasury staff are generally up to the challenge though. Phil Twyford may have scathingly referred to them as ‘kids’, but they are the bright kids, the smart ones, and no one could describe everyone who works at Treasury as ‘kids’ anyway.

Deadlines, long hours and work pressure are part of everyday working life for Treasury personnel though, as these guys are the pick of the crop. It is still considered a real bonus to have a stint at Treasury on your CV if you want to do well in the government sector. Well, it was. After the latest revelations, I am not so sure. quote.

It’s the busiest time of year for Treasury in the lead up to the Budget. This year is particularly intense as the Government prepares the world’s first ever ‘Wellbeing Budget’.
It coincides with a new tool to help staff: a wellbeing card game.

Treasury staff have been playing the game to help improve communication and empathy. It’s hosting a big promotional event next week at $34.73 a head to cover expenses.
The cards claim to name over 100 feelings, including “sun feelings” and “moon feelings”.  end quote.

Right… does Ken Ring have anything to do with the design of this game? Next week is Easter week, and then they only have a few weeks before the Budget report has to be out. But, hey! Moon feelings are much more important. Of course. quote.

“This is bizarre and actually wrong that the Government’s advisors, Treasury, are doing this sort of carry-on going on, given the issues we’ve got all around New Zealand,” National leader Simon Bridges told Newshub.

end quote.

Cant disagree with you there, Simon. The whole thing is completely bizarre. quote.

The wellbeing cards cost $113.85 and were created by a group called Heartwork, helped along by Government Ministries – ACC, Treasury and Women and the Environment, among others.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick features in the promotional video.

“I’m not here, as one individual, to prescribe what certain workplaces should be doing with their time,” she told Newshub. end quote.

No disrespect to Chloe intended, but it doesn’t surprise me at all to find a Green MP behind a touchy-feely programme like this, although Treasury should know better. They used to have a reputation to think of. quote.

Treasury refused to be interviewed but was at pains to point out the wellbeing cards are separate from the Government’s Wellbeing Budget.
The problem is as well-intentioned as this game may be, the Government is already battling criticism its Budget is fluffy and ‘feel good’. Talking about moon feelings isn’t helping.

Newshub. end quote.

Okay, so maybe we can’t actually blame the government directly for this one, but this is exactly the kind of culture that they promote. The very fact that we are having a ‘wellbeing budget’ this year (and don’t worry, I will tear it to shreds if it isn’t absolutely brilliant ? and it won’t be) means that this sort of silly stuff is now mainstream. Treasury, however, is the government’s economic advisor. We need them to focus on the job in hand, not sun feelings and moon feelings. What exactly are we coming to in this country?

A job in Treasury used to be seen as a real achievement. It meant you were one of the elite. It was a passport to many things in the government sector, both here and overseas. In a year and a half, that elevated status has been reduced to rubble. From now on, Treasury staff will be known as the ‘moon feelings’ people.

Two and a half years ago, Bill English was in charge of Treasury, and he was known as a tough but fair person to work for. How much has changed in that time. I know I keep saying it, but stop the world. I really do want to get off.