Govt forces DOC to shed 130 jobs despite fragile state of natural environment

The reckless nature of the Government’s cost cutting drive has again been exposed with DOC forced to make big cuts at a time when it is struggling to protect the conservation estate – the jewel in our tourism crown.

DOC told staff today the Government had ordered it to cut spending by 6.5%. It proposes cutting 130 positions. On top of this, DOC must find another $7.2million to meet cost pressures now and faces increasing costs such as repairing damage from more frequent storm events.

“This Government’s short sighted cost cutting drive is putting at risk the valuable work of an agency which safeguards our national identity and the jewel in our tourism crown,” said Duane Leo, National Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

“Nobody wants to see DOC’s tracks and huts run down, or don’t want to hear the call of the bellbird and kiwi in the bush, yet we are now seeing cuts that could impact all this.

“DOC warned the new Conservation Minister that ‘the state of nature in New Zealand is in decline and significant habitats and species are at risk’. [1] It points out that extreme storm events are racking up significant bills and the current network of trails and huts is ‘not sustainable’.

“That is a cry for help, not cuts. We should be investing more, not less, in such an important agency. The Government talks a big game about growing the economy yet wants to shackle DOC which plays such an important role in boosting tourism, our second biggest export earner. How does this make any sense?”

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.

“Once again, we see the harm that will be wrought by the Government’s decision to choose tax cuts over public services.

“These are blunt cuts which will leave a damaging legacy for years to come as DOC loses experienced people and the money to protect the very thing, we and overseas visitors value so dearly,” said Duane Leo.

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