“National promised New Zealanders better frontline public services. Now there’s talk they’re going to ‘switch off’ frontline services to achieve their arbitrary target of having 70 per cent of common transactions completed online. That makes a mockery of their promise.
“This is yet another demonstration that National’s pledge to move resources from the ‘back office’ to the ‘frontline’ was hollow spin.
“For a lot of people, online options are fast and convenient, and when they’re available, they will use them. But that’s not the case for everyone. Some of those most in need of help, including the elderly, don’t have ready access to online services.
“We also need to be mindful of the risks involved in online services. When things go wrong, people still need to be able to talk to a real person. Yet the Government’s help desk hotlines already have appalling track records.
“Let’s not forget the debacle at Housing New Zealand when they tried to make everyone go online or ring a call centre. Or the on-going shambles caused by the new online pay system for teachers called Novopay.
“National’s rhetoric speaks of better public services. The reality of their actions is wholesale cost-cutting regardless of the impact it has on everyday New Zealanders,” Chris Hipkins says.
16 January 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT – Chris Hipkins