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Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

Significant risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

The Public Service Association is concerned about the significant risks involved in cutting jobs at MAF Biosecurity, whose staff work on our borders protecting New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agriculture sector from pests and diseases.

MAF Biosecurity has today announced that’s its disestablishing around 60 jobs by cutting 30 filled positions and disestablishing 30 vacant positions. MAF Biosecurity says the job cuts are in response to falling trade and passenger volumes.

“But the government is also responsible for these job losses as it cut the baseline funding for MAF Biosecurity by $1.9 million in the Budget delivered in May,” says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“Our concern is that the New Zealand’s economy depends on our farming and horticulture industries that could be decimated if diseases like foot and mouth and fruit fly got into the country.”

“MAF Biosecurity staff work to prevent these diseases and pests from crossing our borders so it’s vital that these job cuts don’t weaken our defences in this area,” says Richard Wagstaff.

MAF Biosecurity says if foot and mouth reached New Zealand virtually all exports of meat, animal by-products and dairy products would stop. They would not resume until at least three months after the slaughter of the last infected animal. The country’s trade reputation would be damaged, unemployment would rise by about 20,000 and Gross Domestic Product would be cut by $10 billion over a two year period.

“We are not opposed to public service staffing being linked to demand for public services,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“But this should work both ways and staff numbers should be increased when demand for public services rises,” says Richard Wagstaff.

The PSA has been consulted about the proposed job cuts at MAF Biosecurity.

“As well as being concerned about the risk to our biosecurity we’re concerned the job cuts could actually push up MAF Biosecurity costs if staff have to do extra overtime or staff who are cut have to be brought back as the workload increases,” says Richard Wagstaff.

ENDS

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