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Work and Income staff bonuses worth $5.8 million

Work and Income staff bonuses worth $5.8 million

"I am surprised that nearly half the staff at Work and Income have qualified for bonuses totalling nearly $6 million taxpayer dollars," says National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"The fact that nearly 50% of staff were rewarded with a performance payment shows the hand-outs were more of an attendance prize than a reward for extraordinary work."

She's commenting on papers released under the Official Information Act, which show $5.81 million was handed out in performance payments in the 2002-2003 financial year, an increase of $500,000 on the previous year.

"You have to ask what criteria was used by the Government agency to set the payments?"

Figures show almost half of the 6000 Work and Income staff nationwide received performance payments in the past year.

"Some staff will have performed above and beyond the call of duty, but you have to start asking questions when they're rewarding half of the work-force," Mrs Rich says.

Details about the bonus payouts have surfaced just three days after figures showed 1194 staff have resigned from the Ministry of Social Development in the past two years.

Many cited dissatisfaction with their present position. "The total bonus payout has increased by $1.5 million a year since 2000, but even that has been unable to stem the flow of unhappy employees quitting Work and Income.

"The Government must now realise the problems are deep rooted within its social policy agenda and they can't be fixed by throwing more money at them," Mrs Rich says.

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