The Otago conservancy office in Dunedin will be affected by
the Department of Conservation's plans to cut 100 jobs in the
organisation, but it is not yet known to what extent.
The department told its 1800 staff yesterday the job cuts
would come from office-based support functions at its
national office in Wellington, and regional conservancy
offices, including in Dunedin.
Otago conservator Marian van der Goes yesterday referred the
Otago Daily Times to Doc spokesman Rory Newsam in
Wellington for comment.
Mr Newsam said the effect on the Dunedin office was not yet
known, but Otago's area offices in Central Otago, Coastal
Otago, Wakatipu and Wanaka would not be affected.
The jobs targeted would not be frontline ranger staff, but
those in areas such as payroll, mapping, science, technical
support, concessions and legal services, so would not impact
on the department's core conservation work, Mr Newsam said.
Regional conservancy offices and the national office
duplicated some support functions, so Doc planned to
re-organise the support system to make it more co-ordinated.
Doc would work with staff and unions to identify affected
positions and aimed to have disestablished these by the end
of the year. The department had about 100 vacancies after
imposing a freeze in April on hiring new staff .
PSA national secretary, Brenda Pilot, who represented 1500
Doc staff, said cutting 100 jobs would undermine Doc's
effectiveness in protecting New Zealand's natural
The PSA recognised the budget pressures Doc was under, which
followed the $54 million slashed from its budget over four
years in 2009.
Further cuts would turn Doc's efficiency drive into a purely
cost-driven exercise that could affect the department's
technical expertise, she said.
Staff had been dealing with uncertainty over job security for
a long time and it caused tension, depression and lost
Green Party MP Kevin Hague said he could not believe Doc did
not mention job cuts during Thursday's select committee
hearing when its 2011-12 budget was discussed.
"Less than 24 hours later we're hearing about 100 job losses.
It's not good enough."
The cuts would affect core areas, such as research and
science, so must reduce the capacity of the department to do
its job, he said. The centralising of services would mean the
loss of specialised local knowledge.
Forest and Bird conservation advocate Nicola Vallance said
the decision contrasted with the Government's decision in
April to nearly double the number of people in the Ministry
of Economic Development's unit aimed at expanding the oil and
Some of those whose jobs were under threat were likely to be
people with strong scientific and technical experience.
"These skills are vital to ensure our beautiful wild places
are protected and well managed."
Good decision-making about the future of conservation land
was crucial to ensuring New Zealand maintained the clean
green brand that underpinned key tourism and agricultural
industries, she said.
Labour MP Ruth Dyson said the cuts would also affect local
tourism and impact on the information available to visitors
and to residents in regional centres.
"Cutting frontline staff is a short-sighted policy, which
will have long-term negative consequences," she said.