• Posted on: 21/03/2024
  • 2 minutes to read

The Government is putting our $57.4 billion primary products export earnings at risk because of proposed cuts of 384 roles at the Ministry of Primary industries (MPI), says PSA National Secretary Duane Leo.

To start meeting the Government’s cost saving demands of 7.5%, MPI is proposing that 384 roles are destabilised in consultation documents issued to staff today. About 40% of the roles targeted for cuts are currently vacant, which means 218 workers will be potentially affected by the proposed cuts.

The Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi understands that the proposal is only the first round of what are likely to be further cuts, as the current proposals will not create 7.5% in cost savings.

“MPI is the first line of defence for our whole economy. Taking 384 roles out of the system built up over many years to protect our $57.4 billion in primary industry export is a reckless, irresponsible gamble by the Government to pay for tax breaks for landlords, Leo says.

“The roles that are being lost equate to about 9% of MPI’s workforce. That’s a big chunk to take out of the important biosecurity, farm animal disease control, food safety, fisheries, forestry and animal welfare work MPI is responsible for,” Leo says.

Our export economy relies on world class biosecurity and disease control, and a robust food safety regime that is beyond question. MPI has played an important role in critical issues facing the country from supporting rural communities in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle to protecting our cattle industry by eradicating mycoplasma bovis, Leo says.

“Worryingly biosecurity is the biggest area to be cut, with 131 roles to go. Another 80 roles are going from the Agriculture Investment Services, which engages with primary industry stakeholders and farming communities on the ground,” Leo says.

“Farmers should be alarmed and deeply worried. The cost cutting will hit vital support for the primary sector and everyone else whose livelihoods depend on the it,” Leo says.

“As the recent shambolic changes to disability support services show, this is not a government with its eye on the detail of how its cuts will affect New Zealanders.”

“The cuts, and any that follow, will see not only MPI but the country lose irreplaceable primary sector knowledge and expertise,” Leo says.

The following areas are significantly impacted:

  • Biosecurity New Zealand: 131 net roles to go – 162 roles being cut, including 31 currently vacant, with 31 roles being created
  • Agriculture and Investment Services: 80 net roles to go – 115 roles being cut, including 32 currently vacant, with 35 roles being created
  • Policy and Trade: 52 net loses – 77 roles net roles to go, 29 currently vacant, with 22 roles being created
  • NZ Forest Service Te Uru Rakau: 27 net roles to go – 35 being cut, including 15 currently vacant, with eight roles being 8 created
  • Māori Partnerships and Investment: 14 roles to go – 24 being cut, including 10 currently vacant, with 10 created.