Govt confirms MPI restructure

The Ministry for Primary Industries will be separated into four divisions, with the ministry retaining an overarching role, the Government confirmed yesterday.

The Government said it would reorganise its functions to create a stronger focus on core responsibilities.

Keeping intact the Ministry of Primary Industries while sharpening the focus of four portfolio-based units within it was a pragmatic approach, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said.

''We certainly didn't want to see the upheaval and expense of a total carve-up of MPI.''

Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety and Rural Communities Minister Damien O'Connor said the Government would establish four portfolio-based entities: Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety.

''Our priority is to achieve greater clarity and unity of purpose for these areas.''

The Government wanted greater visibility of government policy and regulatory activities and clearer lines of accountability and engagement for stakeholders.

The director-general of MPI would work with his team to ensure the aims were met, while ensuring prudent and efficient use of taxpayer and industry funds, Mr O'Connor said.

MPI would increase its forestry presence in Rotorua.

Forestry Minister Shane Jones welcomed the separation. The Government had made a commitment to focus on regional economic development and the planting of one billion trees to support and grow a sustainable forestry sector.

''The planting programme will also increase employment opportunities in the regions and help meet our climate change targets.''

Mr Jones was last week under fire for suggesting ''work for the dole'' would be used to employ out-of-work people to plant the trees.

Although Mr Jones talks about the one billion trees, 500 million will be planted by the private sector.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said he could have confidence in the way fisheries officials carried out government policy.

It meant the many individuals, agencies, iwi and businesses with a stake in fisheries had a clear picture of accountability within the sector.

The need to ensure the sustainability of fisheries stocks and to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing were important concerns. Fisheries NZ was expected to lead efforts in those areas, he said.

National Party primary industries spokesman Nathan Guy said the split was nothing more than a pointless rebranding exercise.

''The worst part of it is, though, that the money is essentially being fleeced from the Primary Growth Partnership Fund - used for essential research and development - to pay for bureaucracy.''

The PSA said it expected to have a strong voice in the reorganisation process, particularly around potential relocation of those working in forestry.

''We will also urgently be seeking reassurances that our members will remain employees of MPI on the same terms and conditions.''


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