Sunday, September 13, 2009

A case for a Commission for Social Exclusion

One thing to come out of the Labour conference was high excitement from Lianne Dalziel on her idea for a Commission for Social Inclusion!  Woopee!  Oh, hold me back from the thrilling excitement at the prospect of another commission if Labour gets back in.

It appears all our other commissions can't engage with citizens, replace consultation with active listening, build consensus, "seek solutions from those directly involved, not restatement of the problem", collect data with independent analysis, using a "worldwide network of researchers and policy makers informing thinking", basing recommendations on evidence-based research, developing and costing plans, providing "accountability for delivery, ongoing monitoring, auditing and evaluation", all leading up to "joined up solutions that are effective."

Reading all of that, I think the free condoms idea that also came out of the conference was 50 years too late.

Head-in-the-red-sand (well, the idea did come out of South Australia) Lianne thinks the Commission for Social Inclusion will fix all these ill, and will make New Zealand a better place.  I'm from South Australia, and I can tell Lianne that it is not necessarily a better place.  The South Australian version was specifically set up to provide advice to the South Australian Government on difficult social problems that typically affect the most vulnerable members of society, such as Aboriginal people, unemployed, the homeless, the mentally ill, and the physically and  intellectually disabled.  The state and federal policy structures in Australia are very different to the policy environment in New Zealand.  You can't simply transfer a model from a state to a country like that.

But Lianne doesn't say that social inclusion will be the purpose of the new commission.  All she seems to be pointing to is more a more robust basis for policy analysis.

Erm.... doesn't New Zealand already have commissions and government departments that cover this?  Off the top of my head I can think of the following commissions:
  • Commerce Commission;
  • Securities Commission;
  • Electricity Commission;
  • Telecommunications Commission;
  • Charities Commission;
  • Families Commission;
  • Human Rights Commission;
  • Children's Commission;
  • Earthquake Commission;
  • Retirement Commission;
  • Transport Accident Investigation Commission;
  • Law Commission
  • New Zealand Film Commission;
  • Maori Language Commission;
  • Health and Disability Commission;
  • Mental Health Commission;
  • Tertiary Education Commission.
There may be more - this is all I could come up with in 30 seconds and my head was working faster than my fingers.  But the point is, do we even need one commission?  What is the role of government agencies and legal statutes?   All the points that Lianne Dalziel makes about her "exciting" Commission for Social Inclusion are points that should form the basis of any good, standard policy analysis, not the basis for a new commission.

Actually, I would quite like a new commission established, now that I really think about it.  A Commission for Social Exclusion.  If you engage with this Commission, you will automatically be deleted from any database, and you will not be required to fill out a census, pay tax, or be forced to participate in any state-led initiatives.


Oswald Bastable said...

Social exclusion:

Would that be like 88% of voters being ignored by government?

Anonymous said...

Love your postings.

Put me down to vote for the Commission of Social Exclusion.

In fact can I be the first Chairman/CEO or whatever you want to call the boss.

A salary around $250k and if Larbour are in free rubbers will just about get me on board !!

Blue Coast