Wider effect of moving jobs north questioned

Pushing southern health board jobs into Auckland and its overheated property market does not make sense, Southern District Health Board deputy chairman Paul Menzies says.

''House prices in Auckland are going through the roof, and yet we're pushing jobs into Auckland, which is going to exacerbate that problem.''

Staff are being consulted on a proposal to shift mid-level finance jobs from Southern District Health Board, as part of a wider cost-cutting drive.

Most of the 17.1 finance jobs the board would relinquish under the proposal would go to Auckland.

Mr Menzies wondered if Crown-owned Health Benefits Ltd (HBL) considered the effects on Auckland's infrastructure issues, or if any arm of government looked at the bigger picture.

''I don't know where that thinking's going on at the moment - it's certainly going on in Winton [Southland], because I think about it.''

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said if regional centres lost too many workers, their ability to support New Zealand's crucial primary produce sector would be severely compromised.

Mr Cull said there were parallels with the fight to save jobs at research agricultural centre Invermay, in terms of regional leaders asking for the wider effects of centralisation to be considered.

''It clearly is central government's role to look at that - if it's not their role who the hell's is it?''

The Otago Daily Times asked Health Minister Tony Ryall if he had considered the wisdom of concentrating too many jobs in Auckland, and was told by a spokeswoman to ask HBL, which was running the process.

HBL spokesman Mark Reynolds said it was a ''very long bow'' to suggest HBL decisions had any effect on Auckland's housing market.

''HBL's focus is on opportunities for efficiency that release resources within DHBs for reinvestment in clinical services.''

He released criteria used to select the location of centralised jobs, which included ''standard of living'' to ensure staff could be attracted to jobs.

Asked if local house prices were considered material to standard of living, Mr Reynolds said in an email that standard of living was not just about the cost of living.

Asked if HBL had projections for how many jobs it would relocate to Auckland under its various cost-saving projects, which include a plan to centralise hospital food production, Mr Reynolds said it did not.


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