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Can’t get the maths right!

19 February 2008

Can’t get the maths right!

Fisheries Minster Jim Anderton is questioning how anyone can have confidence in the National Party’s pronouncements on the economy when their maths is so poor.

“In a release he put out late yesterday (see below) , Phil Heatley said of the Ministry of Fisheries that ’the number of staff within the Ministry has grown by a whopping 272% since 2002, from 327 to 452.’

“I recommend a bit of remedial maths to Mr Heatley,” Jim Anderton said. “As well, I’m going to puncture his ‘shock, horror’ balloon with some facts. MFish Head Office staff has increased from 155 in June 2002 to 228 in June 2007 – 73 staff – an increase of 47%.

“Over the same period other front line operational staff outside of Head Office have increased from 135 to 196 – 61 staff - an increase of 45%.

“Policy and support staff outside of Head Office reduced from 36 to 28 over the same period.

“The main reason for increases in MFish Head Office staff are as follows:
 An increase in Policy staff to meet the increased workloads in Treaty of Waitangi settlements and a wider policy work programme
 An increase of Fisheries Operations staff to work on the Fisheries Planning and Treaty of Waitangi deed of settlement obligations processes with fisheries stakeholders. This entails establishing fisheries plans for 30 key amalgamations of fish stocks
 An increase in Science staff. More than 50 new fish stocks have entered the Quota Management System since 2002 and there is an increased emphasis on managing the environmental effects of fishing and monitoring marine biodiversity

“All of which shows that, far from having ‘an obsession with fattening its head office bureaucracy’, MFish is focused on having sufficient and highly skilled staff to work with the sector in its entirety − customary, commercial and recreational − so that New Zealand can have sustainable industry far into the future,” Jim Anderton said.

Press Release by New Zealand National Party at 4:58 pm, 18 Feb 2008

Labour's own MPs are sceptical over the reasons the Ministry of Fisheries has given for its massive staff blowout, says National's Fisheries spokesman, Phil Heatley.

"The Primary Production Committee's report on the ministry's 2006/07 financial review expresses concern that the number of staff within the ministry has grown by a whopping 272% since 2002, from 327 to 452.

"Fisheries said the increase was due to 'the introduction of new initiatives in the ministry, such as research, compliance, and the development of fisheries plans'.

"But the committee, which includes Labour MPs, isn't convinced. It has concluded 'the staffing allocation schedules provided to us do not entirely support this claim as most increases in staff numbers have occurred in Wellington rather than in front line roles, such as those undertaken by fishery officers within district officers'.

"This is what National has been saying for a long time, but a fact which Labour has denied until now. This report confirms Fisheries' obsession with fattening its head office bureaucracy is of concern to the Government.

"And this is exactly the reason why beach patrolling, prosecutions, and infringement notices are at an all-time low.

"Furthermore, the report highlights Fisheries' own admission that its relationship with fishing interests are 'at one of its lowest points'.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out why. The burgeoning bureaucracy that is infesting the ministry has destroyed its relationship with customary, commercial, and recreational fishers.

"All fishing interests, whether commercial or recreational, are disillusioned by the growing bureaucracy in Wellington. They can't get any decisions out of the bureaucrats for the most basic of requests, and levy costs keep skyrocketing - but Labour just doesn't care."


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