Labour to 'rebuild' public service

Last updated 14:46 06/08/2014

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Labour says it will increase the number of public servants and cut back on contractors in the sector.

It will also fund a royal commission into the state sector and review the legislation that governs government departments.

State services spokeswoman Maryan Street announced the policy at the Institute for Public Administration Conference in Wellington today.

"Labour will rebuild core capacity in the public service so it can do the quality job it needs to," she said.

"The National government has gutted the state sector. The so-called 'cap' on core public servants announced in 2008 quickly became a sinking lid.

"After years of spending millions on expensive consultants and hiring back redundant staff on pricey contracts, the Government has recently attempted to reverse some of the damage it caused."

She said Labour would also implement a goal of 50 per cent goal women on state-sector boards, and work to achieve gender pay equality.

Labour has already announced it will increase government procurement from New Zealand manufacturers by $200 million a year, and from small to medium businesses by $300 million a year.

Government departments have come under renewed pressure to cut costs in the face of new figures showing the number of public servants rising, and on the verge of breaching a limit set by Prime Minister John Key.

Figures from the State Services Commission last December showed that in the previous 12 months the number of core public servants had risen by 573.

The total now sits at 36,474, one position below a cap set by the Government in March 2012.

State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman has this year insisted "back office" public servants were in decline.

"The bottom line is that this Government is delivering better public services at the same time as we've been shifting resources from the back office to the frontline," he said in April.

"So more doctors, nurses and police officers, and fewer in core government administration."

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