The incoming Government’s coalition agreements are a blueprint for slashing the public and community services New Zealanders rely on and risk setting back race relations.
“The plans unveiled today represent an attack on public and community services, public sector workers and the progress we have made in honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi and delivering for Māori,” said Kerry Davies, National Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.
“As the largest union representing public sector workers, we want a constructive relationship with the incoming Government, but our message to new Ministers is that the PSA will defend a strong public service and vigorously protect the interests of our members.
“National and ACT have made much of the need for ‘better public services’ – we agree that’s important, but we believe that is a false promise based on the scale of spending cuts proposed.
“At a time of great challenge for New Zealand, from climate change, an ageing population and the increasing costs and complexity of health services amongst many others, we should be investing in a strong public service, not reducing spending,” said Davies.
PSA National Secretary Duane Leo said “The axing of National’s proposed Foreign Buyers Tax which partly funded the income tax cuts raises a big question about how deep the proposed spending cuts will now need to go.
“The incoming Government is ignoring the facts – the public service has been rebuilt in recent years and has helped us all get through COVID and recent storms – it is now on par with the size of countries we compare ourselves to like Australia and the UK.”
Duane Leo said the PSA would also oppose the repeal of Fair Pay Agreements which set sector wide minimum terms and conditions, a further review of new health and safety provisions that were introduced following the Pike River tragedy, and the introduction of oppressive 90-day trials for all employers.
“These are all worrying backward steps for workers,” said Leo.
The PSA is also concerned by the backtracking on the progress New Zealand has have made in recognising the legitimate aspirations of Māori and honouring te Tiriti.
“National’s agreements with NZ First and ACT point to an unwinding of that by the removal of the partnership with Māori in the delivery of public services, and by diminishing the importance of te reo Māori,” said Kerry Davies.
“This does not get New Zealand back on track, but just setbacks race relations in this country and risks the gains we have made in delivering better outcomes for Māori.
“The PSA will keep advocating for the progress we have made towards a strong bicultural partnership. We will strongly push for the current approach of providing evidence-based services that meet the needs of Māori, including keeping Te Aka Whai Ora (Māori Health Authority).
“We will also oppose attempts to roll back the use of te reo Māori in the public service,” said Davies.