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Robertson: Is National About To Break Public Service Promise?

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Grant Robertson
Grant Robertson

16 February 2009 - Labour's State Services spokesperson Grant Robertson is concerned that possible lay offs at the National Library are a sign of things to come in the public service.

"Despite John Key's election promise to 'cap' public service staffing levels, rumours are rife that Government departments have been directed to find savings in spending by cutting staff," Grant Robertson said.

"In the last week I have heard that the Tertiary Education Commission has been told to slash staff by 50 percent and the Ministry of Social Development by 10 percent.

"National promised it would cap the size of the core public service in its first term, but that pledge may already be history, and destined for the National Library's archive.

Grant Robertson said if National is sharpening its knives in preparation for widespread public service cuts, it needs to tell New Zealanders which core services will suffer as a result.

"More now than ever New Zealanders need a strong public service. Forecasts predict the economic downturn will see over 60,000 Kiwis lose their jobs over the next 12 months," Grant Robertson said.

"Those who lose their jobs will need assistance and retraining from a number of Government agencies, but what happens when there is no one to pick up the phone?

Grant Robertson says while possible lay offs at the National Library could be just the tip of the iceberg, there are also heritage concerns around staffing cuts.

"It's vital the National Library has the skills and resources to protect New Zealand's heritage through its work collecting and maintaining the millions of items in its collection," Grant Robertson said.

"Given the nature of the economic challenges we face the Government should be doing all it can to protect every Kiwi job.

"National needs to come clean if it is planning widespread public service lay offs," Grant Robertson said.

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