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PSA Wants Openness Over Public Sector Mergers

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Brenda Pilott
Brenda Pilott

Wellington, March 9 NZPA - The Public Service Association (PSA) is concerned about more job losses in the public sector and wants more openness in the Government's plans to merge some of its agencies.

Cabinet is likely to make decisions next Monday about merging several government agencies in an exercise that seems sure to lead to job losses.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday it wasn't an ideological move, it was driven by the need to improve efficiency and deliver better services under tighter cost constraints.

"What we do know is that when you have large fragmentation, you have duplication," he said.

"And taxpayers pay for that duplication."

Mr Key wouldn't speculate on job losses and said work was still being done on the details of the mergers.

But he didn't dispute reports that they are expected to include rolling the National Library and Archives New Zealand into the Department of Internal Affairs, merging the Food Safety Authority with MAF, and amalgamating the Foundation for Science, Research and Technology with the ministry of the same name.

PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott said she had no more detail than the rest of the public in terms of what effects mergers might have on employees, and was not likely to get any until shortly before next week's announcement.

"That's a very long way from the kind of consultation that we think ought to be happening," she told Radio New Zealand.

Ms Pilott said there were many people with interests in the departments and there was no reason for the Government to keep plans under wraps.

"The talk seems to get around about where restructures are, but possibly not as accurate as it could be if they were open about it."

She said the PSA was not against restructuring, but questioned whether cost cuts could be achieved.

"There are times when mergers make sense, but they need to be really clear what the problem is that is trying to be fixed, and I don't know what the problem is trying to be fixed by bringing the National Library and Archives together under an operational department like Internal Affairs, I can't imagine what the logic of that is."

There would be job losses, she said, and those two agencies alone had over 350 PSA members who would be concerned about their futures.

Mr Key said New Zealand had more government agencies and departments than countries of a similar size and looked out of place as a result.

The state sector consists of 41 departments and ministries, 84 statutory Crown entities, 11 Crown entity companies, 17 state-owned enterprises, 31 tertiary education institutions and numerous "schedule four entities" such as the Lottery Grants Board.

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