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PSA Seeks Extra Funding for DOC

PSA MEDIA RELEASE


April 22, 2008

For Immediate Use

PSA Writing to Minister of Finance Seeking Extra Funding For DOC

The PSA is very concerned about a proposal to cut jobs at the Department of Conservation and says the Government needs to address the department's budget shortfall.

"I'll be writing to the Minister of Finance today and saying the Government needs to step in and help DOC address its $8 million dollar deficit," says Brenda Pilott, National Secretary of the PSA which represents most of the staff at DOC.

Brenda Pilott says she will be reminding Michael Cullen that DOC is very important to our tourism industry and provides a major economic benefit for the country.

On the West Coast alone the DOC estate generates over $220 million a year and provides more than 1800 jobs in the region.

Last week the Government gave the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade an extra $523 million in operating funds to increase its trade promotion.

"We say the Government should be able to provide $8 million to DOC to meet its funding shortfall so it can carry on boosting our economy here at home," says Brenda Pilott. "This is the message I gave to the Minister of Conservation, Steve Chadwick yesterday afternoon and this is what I will be saying in the letter to Dr Cullen," says Brenda Pilott.

Brenda Pilott met with Steve Chadwick yesterday afternoon an hour after DOC staff were briefed on its draft proposals to align its resources and expenditure with its strategic direction and address a likely annual deficit of at least $8 million by the 2010/2011 financial year.

DOC says the deficits are due to: a higher level of inflation; an increase in ACC levies; the cost of implementing Treaty of Waitangi settlements; increased costs of fire fighting, which cost a $1 million during the summer; and pay rises for the staff.

DOC staff who belong to the PSA received pay increases last year. These were provided because DOC staff have been paid below public service medians.

"The increases simply brought their pay more in line with staff in other government agencies," says Brenda Pilott. "They would be paid more for performing similar work in the private sector."

The PSA will be looking hard at the job cuts proposed in the draft report given to DOC staff yesterday afternoon.

"We want to be assured that DOC has made every possible saving it can before cutting any jobs," says Brenda Pilott. "We're very concerned about DOC losing staff like scientists and technical staff."

"It's vital DOC has the staff and resources it needs to continue providing a word class conservation service so that everyone is able to enjoy New Zealand's natural and historic heritage, now and in the future," says Brenda Pilott.

ENDS

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