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More public services tighten belts

Anna Whyte & Harriette Boucher

More public service departments are tightening belts and slashing recruitment, as the clock starts ticking to deliver savings for the new Government.

Numerous agencies had alreadyhit pause on recruitment in light of Labour’s August baseline squeeze of 1-2%, and National’s additional 6.5% average decrease, plus its pledge to cut contractor and consultant spend by $400 million a year.

Stats NZ faced potential job cuts, while Crown entity WorkSafe, the workplace health and safety regulator, is cutting its staff by 113 roles, with the new structure to be implemented in February next year.

Ministry of Education (MoE)

Stuff reported in mid-November MoE had paused the majority of recruitment, halting the hire of almost 160 jobs.

A spokesperson said yesterday: “The current pause on hiring is putting pressure on the organisation.”

Education Secretary Iona Holsted also sent a message to staff yesterday regarding “staff reductions in the public service”.

“Since the election, there have been a range of comments from incoming ministers about the size of the public service and the need to reduce it, to make savings.

Holsted said there were already a “number of actions” under way to respond to the fiscal pressure, including being “very cautious” about filling roles.

“We have committed to ongoing reductions in consultancy and contracting spend including as projects come to an end.”

Holsted said she could not “rule out organisation changes in the future but if this becomes necessary, we will consult with you and your representatives”.

Asked what “organisation changes” meant, a spokesperson said “nothing’s on the table, nothing’s off the table”, and it would be inaccurate to say it signalled potential redundancies.

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)

MPI has 21 roles advertised, “compared with approximately 370 around the same time last year”, director of people and capability Kaye Ryan said. “We continue to advertise important frontline roles including for veterinarians, animal welfare and food compliance officers, and biosecurity work at the border.”

Ministry for the Environment

Deputy secretary (business transformation) Laura Dixon said the ministry was taking a prudent approach to recruitment “and are not recruiting for all vacancies at the moment”.

“Our executive leadership group has oversight and approval of any vacancies we do recruit for. We have paused some programmes, including parts of the resource management reforms, in anticipation of the incoming Government’s policy and legislative agenda”.

Structural changes that came into force yesterday reduced the number of senior management positions by 25%.

Manatū TaongaMinistry for Culture and Heritage (MCH)

MCH has paused recruitment while it works through an operating model change proposal, chief executive Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae said.

The first phase, in October and November, was focused on reshaping the ministry’s senior structure and resulted in the reduction of two fulltime equivalent roles.

“The second phase will start early next year and will focus on resizing the ministry to fit within our budget.

“It is too early to say what, if any, work programmes will be stopped and what, if any, layoffs there could be as a result.”

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC)

DPMC was taking a “considered approach, closely examining its finances and where opportunities for savings might sit” in regards to recruitment, a spokesperson said.

“As part of this, we are actively managing vacancies.”

Crown Law

Crown Law has not put a hold on recruitment, but had planned to introduce a deputy chief executive (Māori) last year. A spokesperson said they had paused that recruitment to reconsider role requirements. “We are awaiting direction from Government on what, if any savings are required from across Crown Law.”


A Customs spokesperson said vacancies were being “carefully reviewed on a caseby-case basis”.

“Customs has been examining where and what cost savings can be made since before the previous government signalled its requirements for baseline savings.

Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Kaihautū organisational effectiveness Claire Richardson said Linz had a “needsbased approach to the prioritisation and recruitment of vacancies”. It has a number of vacancies on hold.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

Richard Griffiths, deputy secretary of corporate services, said MBIE was focusing on reducing contractor and consultant spend, “and considering potential changes to the way we deliver work”. “We continue to review all vacancies and have chosen to pause recruitment in some areas.”

Public Service Commission

A spokesperson said the Public Service Commission “has been taking a considered approach to some recruitment”.

Department of Internal Affairs (DIA)

A DIA spokesperson said it was finalising how to deliver almost $12m in savings requested by the previous Government “which are yet to be discussed with ministers”. That meant “the impact on staff and programmes” was not yet available. “We await instructions from the Government on any further savings that are needed.”

Ministry of Social Development

Deputy chief executive (people and capability) Nadine Kilmister said the ministry was taking a careful approach to expenditure“and was implementing $87m in savings. “We have started meeting with our ministers to begin work on carrying out their priorities. This will include discussing their expectations around cost savings and FTEs.”





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