But Joyce is also becoming the Minister for Getting Things Done. We're sure that's why he was given the responsibility for the Novopay debacle, and after taking time to get his head around the issues, he has moved up a gear this week. He's also been quick to banish the debt collectors, as the Herald reports:
The minister in charge of sorting out the Novopay debacle, Steven Joyce, says debt collections have ceased following revelations teachers were being chased for overpayments as low as $22.
Teachers have slammed the the debt collection as heavy handed and hypocritical, with some still waiting for the wages they failed to receive as a result of the error-ridden payroll system.
Mr Joyce, speaking on Newstalk ZB this morning, moved to reassure concerned teachers, and said the debt collection had stopped while the Acting Secretary for Education, Peter Hughes, considers the situation.
In his view, teachers should only be pursued to pay back money if it was "significant sums" and if they had ignored other requests to pay up.
"My understanding is you get three letters over nearly two months before any action is taken," Mr Joyce said.
Mr Joyce is dead right to nip this in the bud swiftly. The focus at the moment needs to be on either fixing Novopay so that it becomes the system that the Government ordered and paid for, or exiting the contract and reinstituting the former Datacom system.
Ancilliary issues such as this should not be Joyce's focus at the moment. Overpayments can be recovered in due course, but the priority at the moment is to reach a point where teachers and support staff get paid what they are due on time.
Novopay has been a disaster from the time that Chris Carter signed the first contract with the software providers in 2008. It's fast approaching the time when the dog of a system should be put out of its misery, but only when there is another system in place that ensures that teachers get paid.