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More Frontline Cuts As Government Goes Soft On Organised Crime

  • Cuts proposed to Customs Officers and public servants combatting child exploitation, violent extremism, money laundering
  • New Zealand Customs Service: 79 roles proposed to go including from ports, airports around the country
  • Department of Internal Affairs: 41 roles proposed to go from teams dealing with digital harm, child exploitation, money laundering, counter terrorism and other regulatory roles

The Government is putting at risk the defences of our land and sea borders against organised crime, and our online defences against child exploitation, terrorism and online crime with cuts to critical frontline roles at Customs and Internal Affairs.

"This is irresponsible and dangerous at a time when these crimes are getting more sophisticated and causing more harm than ever before," said Fleur Fitzsimons Assistant Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

"The elderly and children are prime targets of online scams, which are growing in sophistication every day.

"The Government rolled back the smoking reforms because it was worried about the black market for tobacco yet is weakening the agency tasked with stopping criminals importing illegal tobacco products. How does that make sense?

"It has taken years for successive Governments and our Customs Officers to set up our internationally renowned border management. These cuts will harm New Zealand for years to come.

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"The false promise of ‘no cuts to the frontline’ has again been exposed with these proposed cuts - try telling someone who has lost their lifesavings to an online scam that the tracking down of these criminals is a back-office function and therefore not important.

"These are the very people whose job it is to be exposed to some of the most vile and traumatising material imaginable and those who control our long borders as a last line of defence on behalf of us all. What could be more frontline?

Department of Internal Affairs

"The Digital Safety group is at the frontline of New Zealand’s defence against online harm. Yet the spending cuts are forcing the Department of Internal Affairs to decimate the very teams keeping New Zealand safe from digital violent extremism, scams and online child exploitation.

"They are also proposing to axe 21 roles from the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism directorate. This is the team charged with supervising more than 5,000 financial institutions and other non-financial businesses and professions for compliance with measures to detect and deter money laundering and terrorism financing. This includes three casinos, 1361 law firms, 940 real estate agents and 633 accountants.


"Customs is the first line of defence against organised crime importing illegal drugs and firearms and is a critical agency ensuring everybody pays the correct revenue from duties and excise taxes. The work of Customs accounts for about 15% of total Crown revenue.

"The people who are facing possible job loss are carrying out valuable work on the frontline. Some oversee staff who work to ensure importers are correctly paying excise taxes and duties.

"Others train detector dogs who sniff out illegal drugs and firearms in mail, at airports and on ships. A halving of the dog training unit undermines effectiveness of this vital frontline role.

"The capability of the frontline Border Operations team is being weakened. These are experienced specialist staff who ensure all systems and processes are working effectively. They have responsibility for quarantine rules, x-ray capability and other goods inspections work. None of this makes sense.

"Today, we are seeing the Government’s real priorities - putting tax cuts for landlords and others ahead of the safety and security of New Zealanders," said xx

Details of jobs proposed to go at DIA

The Digital Safety Group being cut by eleven staff, including:

- Lead Online Investigator Digital Child Exploitation

- Principal Advisor Countering Violent Extremism

- Senior Investigator Digital Messaging Systems reduced from 2 to 1 and the work being deprioritised

- Intelligence and Insights analysts (3 roles including lead analyst)

- Lead Operational Advisor

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism directorate being reduced from 51 to 30 (24 roles disestablished and 3 new roles established in an investigations function), including through:

  • Removal of the Deputy Director and Principal Advisor roles
  • The Auckland team being reduced from 16 staff to 10, losing one Manager (Operations), two senior anti-money laundering regulators, an anti-money laundering regulator and two graduate regulators
  • The Wellington team being reduced from 10 staff to 6, losing a senior anti-money laundering regulator, two anti-money laundering regulators and a graduate regulator
  • The Service Design team being cut by 6 roles, including a forensic accountant, with the remainder being reassigned to another team, and
  • The number of Practice Leaders being reduced from two to one.

The 9-person Strategy and Capability team within Regulatory Services is being proposed for disestablishment.

Details of jobs proposed to go at Customs include:

22 roles from Trade, Revenue and Compliance Service Delivery:

- Auckland (11), Wellington (1), Christchurch (6), Dunedin (2), Hamilton (1) and Te Awamutu (1)

- Includes removing 11 out of 15 roles in the Assurance Team, disestablishing the Christchurch assurance team completely

12 roles from Border Operations

- Auckland (6), Wellington (1), Christchurch (5)

- Includes disestablishing the role of Supervising Customs Officer (SCO) in Christchurch and having the remaining Christchurch staff report to a SCO in Auckland

7 roles from Operations, Intelligence, Investigations and Enforcement

- Auckland (2), Wellington (2), Christchurch (3)

- Includes removing two of the three Auckland-based dog trainer positions from the Detector Dog Unit

- Includes removing the Chief Customs Officer role responsible for training in the group

5 roles in the recently established Maritime Group

- 1 Senior Customs Officers each in Auckland, Whangarei, Gisborne, Timaru and Invercargill

- This will remove the daily Customs presence from Whangarei, Gisborne, Timaru and Invercargill ports and transfer the work to Opua, Napier, Lyttleton and Dunedin ports respectively.

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