Every day right around New Zealand Public servants work hard to make a difference for New Zealand and New Zealanders. And yet all too often this effort goes unacknowledged.
I strongly believe in the ideal of public service. And I believe that it is something we as a country should acknowledge, celebrate and reward.
Today, 7 November, is a special day in the history of New Zealand’s Public Service. It is exactly 105 years ago today that the first Public Service Act became law.
The 1912 Act, enacted at a time of considerable social and industrial unrest, created and preserved a professional, politically neutral civil (later public) service. Today the Public Service remains fundamental to New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements for supporting Ministers of the Crown and the Executive Branch of Government.
So for me the 7th of November is a perfect opportunity to remind ourselves that New Zealand has a Public Service that values neutrality, fairness and integrity - a public service we can all be proud of. There are currently around 45,000 individuals working in the core Public Service in New Zealand and another 300,000 working in the broader state sector. These are people who keep our streets safe, who teach our kids, who look after us when we’re sick and in hospital and who defend our country.
If you are one of these people I thank you for your commitment, your dedication and your professionalism. Most of all I thank you for the spirit of service that you bring to your work and the difference you make in our country and our communities every day.
I am looking at ways we can acknowledge the work being done by public servants. The Public Service is a cornerstone of our system of Government, our form of democracy, and we need to protect and nurture it – and perhaps celebrate it on one day each year.
The 7th of November would certainly be an appropriate day.