Public sector cuts: More than 800 jobs missing in Kāinga Ora, Ministry of Education, NZQA, Stats NZ, Housing and Urban Development

More than 800 public sector jobs have been cut today, marking one of the darkest days for the civil service, with five departments and ministries announcing role reductions.

Kāinga Ora, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Statistics New Zealand, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the Ministry of Education announced proposals for workplace change on Thursday.

Education Secretary Iona Holsted said 755 positions would be cut across the Ministry of Education. However, only 439 people would lose their jobs, as 316 of the positions waiting to be eliminated were vacant.

About 35 people would lose their jobs at NZQA. The union representing civil servants, the Public Services Association, said a proposal was handed to staff today indicating a total of 66 positions would be axed, 13 of which were vacant.

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At Statistics New Zealand, a total of 153 jobs are scheduled to be cut. This figure comes on top of 29 previous job losses and another 124 cuts that the government statistician predicted in December last year.

Statistics New Zealand today offered a voluntary redundancy scheme to all its workers. Chief executive Mark Sowden said the plan would give staff “some authority over their own future”.

Meanwhile, at HUD, 30 people would lose their jobs. This is in addition to 10 other positions that were vacant but would not be filled in the future.

Kāinga Ora chief executive Andrew McKenzie then announced that 159 positions would be cut in the state housing department, with more likely to follow, depending on the results of an independent review expected soon.

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In total, 816 people were confirmed to have lost their jobs in one day.

These recent cuts were the latest announcements in a series of wide-ranging job cuts across the public sector, as the Government seeks big spending cuts ahead of the Budget and savings of $1.5 billion each year.

The savings are made up of cuts to certain “behind the scenes” spending of 2 per cent, ordered by the Labor Party before leaving office last year, and 6.5 or 7.5 per cent ordered by National, as well as cuts to consulting spending.

It has already been confirmed that some 3,534 people have lost their jobs in the public service since this tranche of cuts began.

“Dangerous, harmful, hasty, reckless” – union

PSA deputy secretary Fleur Fitzsimons commented on most of the planned cuts, criticizing those at Kāinga Ora for coming at a time when the state housing waiting list was in the tens of thousands, and questioning those at NZQA for come when new grading standards were being implemented. .

Meanwhile, Labour’s housing spokesman Kieran McAnulty called the cuts to HUD and Kāinga Ora “reckless”, saying they would delay the country’s exit from its housing crisis.

“The National Party needs to make a decision: do they want to end the housing crisis or do they want to see the end of Kainga Ora? You can’t have it both ways,” McAnulty said.

“Every time we ask them for a response about the social housing construction program, they point out the ongoing review. But they are very happy to take jobs away from people who were finding available land and building houses before the review was reported,” he said.

Labor Party Housing Spokesperson Kieran McAnulty.  Photo / Bevan Conley
Labor Party Housing Spokesperson Kieran McAnulty. Photo / Bevan Conley

Fitzsimons said: “The Government’s cuts to public services are aimed at Kāinga Ora – the agency tasked with solving the public housing crisis – at a time when 25,000 people are on the waiting list for social housing.

“(These) cuts. . . “They are rushed and ill-considered, and they come at a time when the country is facing a housing affordability crisis.”

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Fitzsimons also criticized the cuts for coming before the results of an independent review were announced. As McKenzie said, more work could be done once this review is done.

Regarding the roles to be played at the NZQA, Fitzsimons said this would make it difficult to establish qualifications.

Fleur Fitzsimons, Undersecretary of the Public Services Association.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
Fleur Fitzsimons, Undersecretary of the Public Services Association. Photo / Mark Mitchell

“NZQA plays a vital role in ensuring New Zealand qualifications are recognized and respected nationally and internationally – these cuts will make their job more difficult,” he said.

“A number of the proposed roles relate to the delay in the implementation of the new NCEA Level 2 and 3 standards, which is disappointing as critical experience will be lost and, despite the delay, planning and other work needs to be done now.

“The scale of the proposed cuts across the education sector is dangerous and damaging and should worry parents and everyone who cares about our children’s future.”

Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter covering breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.

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Azaria Howell is a Wellington-based multimedia reporter with an eye across the region. She joined NZME in 2022 and has a keen interest in council decisions, social housing and transport.

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