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Competition between SOEs untenable

Competition between SOEs untenable

Conflict between state-owned enterprises ASURE New Zealand Ltd and Agriquality New Zealand Ltd could compromise New Zealand’s defence response to exotic disease outbreaks such as foot and mouth and anthrax, PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said today.

“ASURE was established for the purposes of meat inspection and ensuring food safety, while Agriquality was set up for testing and laboratory work. We now have a situation whereby ASURE is tendering for work which has traditionally been the domain of Agriquality, and for which it does not have the requisite skills and resources to complete. “

“It is PSA’s concern that if these two government agencies are at loggerheads over their domains of work, they are not in the best position to focus on responding to serious issues, such as exotic diseases outbreaks.”

Richard Wagstaff said he was aware that ASURE had recently contested for a tender for tuberculosis testing in livestock.

“If it is successful in its bid, ASURE will need to recruit staff to carry out the testing – probably from Agriquality which, if it is losing work, will have to lay off staff. This will create discontinuity for staff, users of the service, and the government as funders of the service.”

“Staff will have to go through the painful process of restructuring, with all the uncertainty and anxiety that brings when, at the end of the day, they are remaining state sector employees. Restructuring and change need not be inherently negative in themselves when the outcome is sensibly planned and enhances service delivery, but this exercise is not going to achieve that.”

Richard Wagstaff said PSA was taking the matter up with the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises.

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