Government needs to join the dots on under-resourced public service

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The Public Service Association says the government needs to listen to its own ministers and senior officials and join the dots on the under-resourcing of the public service.

In the past two days both the Trade Minister and the Minister for Primary Industries have admitted that under-resourcing at the Ministry for Primary Industries seriously affected New Zealand’s response to the Chinese milk contamination scandal.

Yesterday the Secretary for Education said his Ministry has been stretched in terms of capacity and capability which led to errors around the Novopay system and its response to the future of schooling in Christchurch.

On top of all that, figures from the Office of the Ombudsman indicate that New Zealanders are more frustrated than ever with state-run services, with a record number of complaints lodged last year.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff says it all comes against a backdrop of public sector budget cuts, forced redundancies, a cap and sinking lid policy on public servant numbers, relentless restructuring and a continued expectation for departments to do more with less.

In the case of MPI, the government restructured the Ministry in 2011 and 2012, axing more than 200 positions, to save $18 million.

“The cracks are really starting to show and we’re seeing mistakes which are putting New Zealand’s international reputation at risk and denting the confidence of New Zealanders in the ability of the public service to do its job,” says Mr Wagstaff.

“The government has chosen to ignore the warnings about the impact of its public sector austerity drive.  It’s telling that we’re now at a point where its own ministers and senior officials can’t.”