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Urgent clarification sought on state sector review

Urgent clarification sought on state sector spending review

The Public Service Association (PSA) is seeking urgent clarification about the planned review of state sector spending.

The PSA represents more than 50,000 public servants working in central and local government, the health sector and in community services. During the election campaign it sought commitments to continue investing in quality services – an agenda supported to a greater or lesser extent by Labour, Greens, Progressive, New Zealand First, United Future and the Māori Party.

PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott said the union had this morning written to Finance Minister Michael Cullen seeking an urgent meeting to clarify the scope and focus of the planned review of state sector spending.

“Our members have been concerned to read media reports about the formation of a Ministerial ‘razor gang’ to audit spending across the public sector. This language evokes strong memories the last Bill Birch-led public sector slash and burn exercise and the disastrous consequences which resulted.

“We were pleased that Labour, and all the other parties with a relationship with the new government, supported our election agenda to continue investing in quality public services so we are seeking urgent clarity about what the government is now planning.

“While we noted the Prime Minister ruling out cuts to public services on radio this morning, we also know the government is facing the need for further investment in several key departments where critical services remain under resourced.

“New Zealand has one of the most efficient public services in the world – employing less staff than a decade and consuming less of the economy than the majority of OECD nations. Finding significant savings without affecting services will be a very difficult job.

“Of course regularly reviewing government spending is a normal task for all governments. Each year governments must decide what to cease, change or reduce doing when new priorities are being provided for in the budget.

“Through our formal Partnership for Quality we have had input in to the budget process in the past and we look forward to continuing to engage with the government about how to achieve our shared commitment to quality public services,” Brenda Pilott said.

ENDS

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