DOC cuts 140 jobs

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 12:00 26/03/2013
Fairfax NZ

Conservation department confirms plans to cut about 140 jobs - largely administration positions.

Southland Times photo
MARCUS WILD
AL MORRISON: "I acknowledge this will mean a difficult period for many staff and we will be making every effort to ease the impact of these proposals."
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Eugenie Sage
EUGENIE SAGE: "National is trying to turn DOC into a corporate entity focused on stakeholders and corporate sponsorship at the expense of its key role to to protect and preserve native plants and animals".
JOHN KEY
KEVIN STENT
JOHN KEY: The department was over-staffed with middle management and bureaucracy.

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The Department of Conservation (DOC) has announced plans to cut about 140 largely regional management and administration positions.

The job losses are part of a reorganisation under which DOC's existing 11 regional conservancy boundaries will be replaced with six new regions.

DOC director-general Al Morrison says the new structure would maintain DOC's own conservation delivery work while setting the department up to work more effectively with external partners.

"DOC must adapt if it is going to meet the conservation challenges that New Zealand faces - even if you doubled DOC's budget tomorrow we would still be going ahead with this proposal."

DOC would continue to operate out of the same number of offices as now with more than 1200 operational staff, Morrison said.

About 118 management and administrative positions would go as a result of the new flatter organisation.

A further  22 operational roles would be cut through efficiencies gained by setting up new support hubs for activities such as asset  management, inspections and work planning.

The size of the proposal was aimed at ensuring DOC met its $8.7 million savings targets and continued to meet its current delivery work.

A conservation partnerships group would be set up focused on working with community groups, iwi, local authorities, private landowners and businesses to attract more resources to conservation, Morrison said.

Recreational and natural heritage field work would be the responsibility of a conservation services group.

Consultation with staff about the proposals had started and no final decisions would be made until staff feedback had been considered.
 
Any changes would not take effect for some months.
 
"I acknowledge this will mean a difficult period for many staff and we will be making every effort to ease the impact of these proposals," Morrison said.
 
A freeze on hiring new staff had been in place and about 160 positions were filled with temporary staff.
 
"It is simply too early to say what impact these proposals will have on individuals - we will look at all options such as redeployment and relocation to minimise redundancies."

'GAPING HOLES'

The Green Party earlier today predicted the proposal was to axe 140 jobs.

"With the department already pared to the bone these latest cuts will mean less protection of our special native plants and wildlife,"  Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

"DOC manages more than a third of the land in New Zealand and the argument that volunteers and a few corporate sponsors will fill in the gaping hole these cuts and continued pressure on department spending create is nonsense.
 
"National is trying to turn DOC into a corporate entity focused on stakeholders and corporate sponsorship at the expense of its key role to to protect and preserve native plants and animals," Sage said.

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"This National Government is toxic to the environment and is polluting, digging up and selling our children's future."

KEY: DOC OVERSTAFFED

Prime Minister John Key this morning said the department was over-staffed with middle management and bureaucracy.

"What you have seen is, over the good times under a Labour government a big buildup in kind of the middle management and bureaucracy, and in the leaner, harder times where the Government doesn't have a lot of money to throw around, we don't have that much money," he said.

Government agencies now needed to be leaner, and more efficient, Key said.

He compared the restructuring to a similar exercise at Telecom, which was expected to axe hundreds of jobs this year.

"If you go and look at what is happening at Telecom at the moment, on a different scale ... but no-one is arguing that the chief executive isn't doing the right thing trying to make sure that organisation is leaner and more efficient," he said.

The Government had a responsibility to taxpayers, he said.

"The management at DOC have a responsibility to ensure that their resources are directed in the right place and that is what you are going to see today," Key said.

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- Stuff

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