The Government has set out to build a strong, proud, confident New Zealand, growing and developing, and enabling all its people to share in progress.
The Government's priorities over the next decade are to:
- progress our economic transformation to a high-income, knowledge-based market economy which is both innovative and creative and provides a unique quality of life for all New Zealanders
- ensure all families - young and old - have the support and choices they need to be secure and able to reach their full potential within our knowledge-based economy
- have all New Zealanders able to take pride in who and what we are, through our arts, culture, film, sports and music, our appreciation of our natural environment, our understanding of our history and our stance on international issues.
The Department makes an important contribution to these priorities. New Zealanders need to feel safe and secure, be able to participate fully in their communities and have access to high-quality services. The Government looks to the Department of Internal Affairs to help provide this foundation and contribute to these priorities. The Government, through the Development Goals for the State Services, also aims to lift the performance of the State Services to deliver better results for all New Zealanders and government. I will be looking to the Department to continually do better, delivering improved services for citizens, communities and government.
The Department's 2007/08 Statement of Intent (SOI) marks its 100th anniversary under its present name. As the Office of the Colonial Secretary, the Department served New Zealand from the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. I am encouraging the Department to look back for what is valuable in our traditions, but also to emphasise forward-looking strategy to meet the needs of the New Zealand people in the decades ahead. This SOI has a future focus, and indicates the determination of the Department to do still more to play its part in New Zealand's economic transformation, in supporting families - young and old, and in building our identity as a nation.
The Department, in consultation with Vote Ministers, has reviewed how it can best contribute to results for citizens, communities and government, looking out three years. Along with my Vote Minister colleagues, I will be looking for a strong focus on efficiency and effectiveness.
This 2007/08 SOI sets out the outcomes where we expect the Department to make a difference, indicates how the Department's outputs will contribute to these desired outcomes and identifies key areas of work important to the Government. I am satisfied the SOI is consistent with the policies and performance expectations of the Government. The document includes performance and financial management information to enable progress to be monitored.
HON RICK BARKER
Minister of Internal Affairs
This Statement of Intent sets out how, working as one organisation, we propose to work towards our purpose to serve and connect citizens, communities and government to build a strong, safe nation.
Our purpose supports the Government priorities set out in the three themes of economic transformation, families - young and old, and national identity. These priorities were reiterated in the Prime Minister's Statement to Parliament on 13 February 2007, with the emphasis on developing sustainable strategies for our economy, society, environment, culture and way of life.
Our outcomes describe the ultimate result of our work. These outcomes - strong, sustainable communities/hapū/iwi, safer communities, trusted records of New Zealand identity and support for Executive Government - align with and support the Government themes.
This SOI sets out how our work links to all three themes, and explains our aspirations, results to date and what we will need to do over the next three years to make the greatest possible contribution to New Zealand.
Each year we seek to improve the language we use to describe our intentions. We want to be clear, and show the logic which underlies our thinking. I believe this SOI clearly demonstrates how our work contributes to the Government's three themes and the Development Goals for the State Services, and also shows the cost-effectiveness of what we do.
For 167 years, since the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and the establishment of Crown authority in New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs has been part of the fabric of New Zealand. This is symbolised in our logo. In November 2007, it will be exactly a hundred years since we began using the name "The Department of Internal Affairs", given in Māori as "Te Tari Taiwhenua".
Our celebrations of this event will be low-key and in accord with our traditions of quiet and effective service to government, communities and citizens. They will take place in a year in which our range of activities again illustrates the centrality of our purpose to New Zealand society.
The Department will provide support for the 2007 local elections, a fundamental part of this country's democracy. Local control of local issues through public participation and effective governance is of critical importance to the strength and resilience of our nation. The Department will promote both the opportunity to vote and understanding of the two voting methods to be used - Single Transferable Vote (STV) and First Past the Post (FPP).
The future approach to local and regional governance in Auckland is being reviewed, as is the funding basis for local government.
The Department is the agency charged with ensuring that gambling in New Zealand is lawful and fair, and benefits the community in the way prescribed by law. The 2007/08 year will begin with every non-casino gaming (pokie) machine linked through our new electronic monitoring system. The information collected will support the Department's role in ensuring legal compliance and the efficiency of the operation of the machines, and providing policy advice to Government.
I regret that the Department continues to find New Zealanders involved in offences related to the making, distribution and possession of images of the abuse of children and other objectionable material. In our work we will ensure that such activities, if continued, will lead to the apprehension of New Zealand-based traders. As offenders find new ways to distribute material they create new opportunities for the Department to identify and find them. The Department will continue to urge the imposition of appropriate penalties under the law which, under recently strengthened provisions, will mean jail sentences in many cases.
Community safety is also the focus of our work to support New Zealand's resilience through emergency management preparedness. Additional investment by the Government is allowing the Department to improve its support of the whole civil defence emergency management (CDEM) sector.
Among key tasks for 2007/08 are the continuation and development of the successful public education programme, the updating of the national CDEM Strategy and the implementation of a CDEM monitoring framework.
The Department provides leadership in identity management across the public service in collaboration with our partner agencies. The Department will continue to improve its work in citizenship; the registration of births, deaths, marriages and civil unions; and the issuing of passports, with enhanced online services and greater security for individuals, New Zealand and other nations.
The Department, particularly through the Office of Ethnic Affairs, acts as a point of contact between government and ethnic people and provides information and advice about and for ethnic communities. With additional investment from the Government through Budget 2007, we will support a programme of intercultural awareness across the State sector and strengthen regional support for ethnic communities.
For many years the Department has taken pride in the effective management of its VIP car fleet, so that fuel use is minimised while standards are maintained. The availability of new vehicles, and the Government commitment to lowering carbon emission, will lead to changes in the fleet that we anticipate will be the focus of wide attention.
Sustainability is important for communities as well as the wider environment. Our work to support communities will continue, especially through the Community Organisation Grants Scheme, our administration of the Lottery Grants Board and our oversight of the new Charities Commission, an autonomous Crown entity. We will continue to improve efficiency and effectiveness of grants management.
The Development Goals for the State Services, launched by the State Services Commission in 2005, provide guidance for how we do our work. Much of our effort is focused on delivering coordinated, accessible and networked State services. We also have a strong focus on building trust in State services. During 2006/07 we identified three flagship projects as the Department's particular contribution to advancing the Development Goals for the State Services, and these will continue to be a priority:
- supporting the Digital Strategy, by helping to improve skills in the community through initiatives such as the Connecting Communities Programme, Community Partnership Fund and CommunityNet Aotearoa
- developing identity authentication solutions for New Zealanders, through our stewardship of the Evidence of Identity standard and our work to develop a whole-of-government Identity Verification Service
- improving responsiveness to ethnic diversity in policy and service delivery, by providing training and advisory services to State sector agencies.
I also currently chair one of the State Services Commission's Development Goals advisory subcommittees, working with colleagues and stakeholders to develop a coordinated and accessible State sector which uses technology to transform the provision of services for New Zealanders.
2007 is my fifth year as Chief Executive. My focus has been on building a strong organisation where the whole is more than the sum of the parts. We have reviewed our policy functions and established a new branch structure designed to reflect the strategic focus for the Department. With support from Government, we have invested additional capability in some of our smaller business units (the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, the Office of Ethnic Affairs and the Visits and Ceremonial Office) so they can deliver services in a more sustainable way. We have strengthened the centre to ensure the Department has appropriate corporate services and governance arrangements. There is further work planned to better integrate our corporate and business management services, particularly in the information and technology area.
We need to be continually reviewing risks and opportunities for the organisation, anticipating change, and taking steps to improve efficiency and effectiveness where possible. For example, with the passing of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill, the Department will have the task of enforcing the anti-spam law. Spam is the common term for electronic junk mail - unwanted messages sent to a person's email or mobile phone. We will establish a new compliance unit to be up and running by the time the Act comes into effect in September 2007.
Five years ago, on taking up my role, I found that the Department was defined - both inside and outside the Department - by the diversity of its tasks. Five years on, I believe the dedication of staff in all parts of the Department has led to a change in that perception. Working together as one organisation, we understand the coherence of the group of tasks given to us by government, and their links and alignment to the Government's themes and priorities. I am confident we can serve and meet the needs of citizens, communities and government. We look forward to that challenge as we look back with pride on the achievements of the past hundred years.
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