MPI considers shake-up

Last updated 16:54 20/12/2013

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The Ministry for Primary Industries has confirmed it is considering a major reshuffle following claims from Labour that staff are upset at "blunt" restructuring proposals.

MPI new director-general Martyn Dunne said in a statement this afternoon that the ministry "plans to take stock of its current structure, processes and governance to ensure it is fit for purpose going forward".

"What I have announced to staff this week is the intention to investigate any improvements we can make to be better placed to meet future challenges and opportunities," he said.

Staff would be consulted on the changes which could see "shifts in alignment" though Dunne said it was "not an opportunity to downsize".

"Rather, my intention is to improve MPI's capacity and capability".

An enquiry released last week included 29 recommendations to strengthen New Zealand's food safety system, including the establishment of a centre for food safety science and research and increasing MPI's presence in overseas markets.

Three new overseas secondments were also announced, with two senior positions in China and one in Rome.

"This potential re-alignment will position MPI to deliver on the very important recommendations in this report."

Labour's Primary Industries spokesman Damien O'Connor said earlier today that the "last minute restructure... has left staff in tears on the eve of the Christmas holidays".

"Labour understands a major restructuring proposal has put to managers at MPI that has left staff shell-shocked," he said.

The proposed restructure was "being handled in a blunt and questionable manner" and was a "desperate attempt" by Dunne to overhaul the unmanageable ministry, he said.

O'Connor said this was the third restructure after earlier reforms in 2011 and 2012 saw more than 200 positions axed in an attempt to save $18 million.

"The common thread here is each change has been overseen by the same incompetent minister, Nathan Guy," he said.

"Nathan Guy needs to show some thought to ministry staff whose lives are in upheaval five days out from Christmas."

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, who took up his position in January 2013, said it was appropriate for Dunne to look into how the ministry operates and to implement the recommendations of the enquiry.

"Staffing matters are the responsibility of the director-general of MPI," he said.

"I'm disappointed that Mr O'Connor could be upsetting MPI staff by putting out misleading and exaggerated statements."

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- Fairfax Media

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