Cuts To DOC Will Impact Its Valuable Work

The following can be attributed to Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi National Secretary Duane Leo:

The PSA is gravely concerned that the drive to respond to Government saving cuts has seen DOC confirm to staff that is cutting 124 net roles.

DOC is disestablishing 257 roles, creating 133 roles. Of the 257 disestablished roles, 114 are vacant.

The overall cuts to the Department of Conservation will impact its valuable work as an agency which safeguards our national identity and the conservation estate, the jewel in our tourism crown.

These cuts should be a huge concern to New Zealanders who support the protection and preservation of our unique natural habitats. Even more so to Iwi Māori as kaitiaki of our natural spaces.

The cuts will also inevitably create higher workloads for the remaining DOC workers as the organisation has been underfunded in many areas and is facing cost pressures.

In its November 2023 Briefing to the new Conservation Minister, DOC warned that ‘the state of nature in New Zealand is in decline and significant habitats and species are at risk’.

The Briefing points out that extreme storm events are racking up significant bills and the current network of trails and huts is ‘not sustainable’.

Given this, the Government should be investing more, not less, in such an important agency. The Government talks of growing the economy yet at the same time is shackling DOC, which plays such an important role in boosting tourism, our second biggest export earner.

In 2019, tourism on public conservation land and waters provided an economic value of $4.1 billion nationally, accounting for 21% of the tourism industry.

In the final decision announced today DOC has shown that it seriously considered submissions made by PSA members and other workers. We particularly welcome the retention of more roles in resource management and aquatic units, where the proposed level of cuts would have resulted in almost no capacity to do priority work.

Our delegates will be working closely with DOC to ensure that the change is managed to minimise impacts on individuals.

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