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Ministry For Primary Industries Proposes Cutting 231 Staff

The Ministry for Primary Industry is looking to cut 231 staff, while the Ministry of Health is consulting on cutting 180 roles. Photo: RNZ

More than 400 jobs could go as the Ministry for Primary Industries and the Ministry of Health look to cut their budgets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries is proposing cutting around 231 staff as part of a cost-cutting initiative.

Like many government departments, MPI is trying to cut 7.5 percent of its budget - and told staff in an email on Thursday, it wants to reduce staff numbers by an estimated 9 percent, including vacancies but also disestablishing roles.

The ministry is looking to reduce a total of 384 roles of which 40 percent are vacant.

Director-general Ray Smith told staff, department heads would meet with staff across the business today to discuss the proposals to improve efficiency.

Smith said the organisation had grown by more than 1100 people in the last five years, in areas like biosecurity, policy, trade and regulatory systems - but greater efficiency was needed.

"With programmes now bedding down across the organisation and in the current fiscal environment, we need to make some efficiencies and change the way we operate while still delivering the excellent service and support our sectors require and expect."

He said it would not propose any reductions to frontline services and statutory roles, including veterinarians, animal welfare, fishery and food compliance officers, or our biosecurity teams at the border.

"However, we are proposing changes to roles and reporting lines in other areas of MPI, including the disestablishment of some positions."

Consultation runs from today to 9 April, with final decisions expected by mid-May.

Meanwhile, almost 200 jobs could go from the Ministry of Health.

Staff were told about a proposal for organisational change at a meeting today as the ministry responds to the government's direction to cut 6.5 percent from its budget.

The director of the ministry's Transformation Management Office, Geoff Short, said just over a quarter of jobs or 180 roles could go.


Some positions would be disestablished and some existing vacancies would not be filled, he said.

There had already been a hiring freeze but that had not made enough savings.

Staff were told they would receive more details on the planned changes on 5 April, and a three week consultation period would follow.

It was a difficult and unsettling time for staff, Short said.

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