web analytics

‘Frontline’ cut for phantom savings

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, July 8th, 2009 - 9 comments
Categories: national/act government, unemployment - Tags: ,

MAF Biosecurity is set to cut 60 jobs – 30 of them filled. It claims the fall in imports means it’s over budget and doesn’t need so many staff. I’ve got a few problems with that.

Let’s assume these 30 workers about to get the sack are on the average wage ($48,000). The savings from firing them totals about $1.5 million a year. Bit more for related costs saved too, offset at least in part by redundancy payments that will total hundreds of thousands. Let’s call it $2 million in savings.

Well, the Government cut $2 million from biosecurity in the Budget. So, let’s not blame falling imports here. It’s the Government that cut these jobs (responsible minister David Carter was one of three ministers who refused to front on issues core to their portfolios on Morning report today).

MAF says that biosecurity won’t suffer because there are excess staff now.

Yeah, now, maybe. But Treasury projects that imports will be back to 2007/08 levels by 2011/12. It takes two years (and tens of thousands of dollars) to train a biosecurity officer. So, they’re going to have to start hiring again within a year of firing these workers. If they don’t, they’ll end up unable to meet demand, biosecurity will suffer and they’ll end up paying out more in over-time. More training, more overtime, less experienced staff – there goes your savings up in smoke.

So, it looks like a border-line if not just dumb decision purely from Biosecurity’s point of view, one brought on by the Government’s Budget cuts. Now add the wider costs to the government and the economy:

30 more people out of work means lower tax take and higher benefit payments. Assume they were on the average wage and half go on the dole – you’re looking at hit of about $450,000 to the government’s books. That’s without counting the multiplier effect of their reduced spending sending other people out of work and on to the dole queue.

On top of that, this is a cut to New Zealand’s ability to screen for dangerous organisms that could have devastating effects to our economy. better to keep on the extra staff and do an even more thorough job while imports are down than chase phantom savings at the expense of jobs.
– Marty G

9 comments on “‘Frontline’ cut for phantom savings ”

  1. Ron 1

    What is it with these guys failing to front? Again I think NatRad and the other outlets outta be persuing them more. The problem is if Carter doesn’t front there’s a different story tomorrow and he gets away with it.

  2. outofbed 2

    Yes I was talking to a MAF guy yesterday who said that they all had to reapply for thier jobs He wasn’t happy, seems like its going to be smaller places like say Napier where the cuts will be. Agreed a bit short sighted
    I told him I didn’t vote for them (Nats) He went a bit sheepish and said that It was meant to be a ‘cap’ on public servants, not a cut.
    He seems to have made the same mistake as lots of others in believing JK et al in the election campaign.

  3. Zaphod Beeblebrox 3

    Good post, heard the same thing on the Sean Plunkett interview with the MAF manager this AM. He was asked what would happen once imports came back up in two years (which must happen, unless treasury don’t believe their own figures). said by then there would be productivity improvements??

    Obvious follow up question would be what sort of improvements? New Technology? Better training? more qualified staff? More flexible rosters? Unfortunately no follow up q’s.

    All these things also will cost money. Not to mention the high costs of retraining which is inevitable, surely MAF does not plan on hiring anyone for the next decade.

  4. Oliver 4

    I’ve spent 4 years working at our international airports and can totally assure you that when passenger numbers drop less MAF Officers are required.

    It’s pretty simple, MAF officers Xray or search 100% of all baggage of international flights
    Very simply, when passenger numbers drop less staff are required.

    Also, MAF could’ve saved plenty of money over the last 4 or so years, they’re uniform changes and rebranding cost plenty wiithout achieving anything.

  5. gotham 5

    I don’t disagree too much with the border security/agricultural risk arguments for retaining these staff but I think your economics are sloppy. Can you explain the logic behind your economic argument? Hows it a hit to the governments books if the government was paying them x in salary and now pays them half x in dole payments.

    And can you quantify the multiplier effect? Its pretty easy to make a sweeping statement like that – in reality I think you mis-state the effect of public spending which has to be taken from elsewhere in the economy or borrowed (negative multiplier there if you like) which offsets the maybe positive multiplier you claim here. If the alchemy was that simple the US and UK would be booming now.

    Rational expectations will mean a multiplier effect is much lower when spending borrowed money. That’s why stimulus packages don’t work well when times are tough – people don’t spend the money – it is used to reduce debt or is saved. I think you’d be hard pressed to come up with any multiplier effect greater than about 1.2 anyway for this type of net spending – if that. And multiplier effects don’t magically create more revenue to the govt – they may create more GDP but not necessarily a corresponding increase in govt revenue – think how GST works for instance.

    I can buy the argument that if MAF needs to re-resource two years down the track there is a cost to that, but I think you’ll find the gummints argument is that by definition that will occur in a time when growth is up, hence revenue up. And lets be honest – we aren’t talking about especially highly skilled staff here – staff will be relatively easy to find, 3 month training course and you are in business again.

  6. Swampy 6

    Is there any way of deleting a comment?

    [lprent: Only by asking a moderator after the editing is done. Usually just e-mail one of the addresses in contacts ]

  7. Swampy 7

    Do you work for the PSA, sounds like the sort of line they would use.

  8. Scribe 8

    Marty,

    So you concede there wasn’t enough work now for these people? And yet you think they should have been retained anyway? What do you suggest they would have done? Sudoku?

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago