Introduction from the Chief Executive
The devastating events of the past year, principally the tragic earthquakes in Canterbury and the Pike River mining disaster, along with the ongoing effects of the global financial crisis, will have a significant influence on the work of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in the coming twelve months.
Firstly, in the case of Christchurch, there is a major recovery effort required to rebuild the city. That will last many years. A priority for DPMC will be the provision of appropriate and coordinated support across central government to the new Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, so that it can most effectively carry out its mission. The department will have a particular role in coordinating whole-of-government support for the new agency, and in continuing to provide policy advice to the Prime Minister and ministers on earthquake-recovery issues. Sadly, this stream of advice has become a new part of DPMC's role since the first Canterbury earthquake on 4 September 2010.
Secondly, the concurrence of these historic natural disasters with the ongoing global economic crisis has placed unprecedented strain on the Government's fiscal resources. So while DPMC was already engaged with Treasury and the State Services Commission in efforts to lift performance and efficiency across the public service, the need for that work has intensified. DPMC's central agency leadership role will continue to remain a top priority for the coming period.
These unforeseen events have placed unusual and unwelcome pressures on the nation, on regional communities like Canterbury and the West Coast, and on businesses, social organisations, families and individuals. For some, the burden of the last year has been extreme. Pressures have also been placed on government organisations locally and in Wellington – including this department.
In times of national emergency it is important that DPMC is well placed to support the Prime Minister and his Cabinet in discharging their leadership and decision-making roles. We need to prepare ourselves, practice our emergency routines, and ensure we have resilient structures, processes and staff available at all times. Over the coming year, DPMC's various business units – especially the Security Risk Group – will be assessing the lessons from recent events so that we are even better placed and stronger in future.
The coming year will also provide two anticipated points of focus for the department: the swearing-in of a new Governor-General, Lieutenant General Jeremiah (Jerry) Mateparae ONZM in August; and later in the year the formation of a new Government following on from the general election held on 26 November. The department has core responsibilities in both these instances – and so appropriate preparatory work will be undertaken by the Cabinet Office, Government House, the Policy Advisory Group and other DPMC business units to ensure that these transition points are managed well and in accordance with established conventions and practices. DPMC must acquit its functions at these important times with professionalism and integrity, so as to maintain trust and confidence in our democratic institutions.
The Cabinet Office and Government House will also be giving particular attention to supporting Their Excellencies, the Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand and Lady Satyanand as they conclude their term of office.
Notwithstanding the pressures on the department arising from the Canterbury earthquakes and the tightened public finances, DPMC will be required to maintain its traditional high standards of advice, coordination and leadership in support of the Prime Minister and the Governor-General over the year. Difficult public policy issues will continue to confront the Government, all requiring high-quality advice and management from the department itself and more widely across the public service.
DPMC's enhanced role in leading and coordinating the New Zealand Intelligence Community (NZIC) will remain a priority, as will effective provision of government support for the successful hosting of the Rugby World Cup 2011 in September and October. It will be another very busy year.
In an election year, there is a particular requirement for all staff in the department to acquit their functions in support of the Government of the day, in complete accord with the State Services Standards of Integrity and Conduct. I am confident that, as they execute their roles, DPMC staff are fully aware of their responsibilities to act fairly, impartially and responsibly, and in a trustworthy manner – as they have in the past.
Maarten Wevers, CNZM