Now tax cuts put ahead of climate – jobs to go at Environment Ministry

Job losses at the Ministry for the Environment to meet the Government’s cost cutting drive risks New Zealand’s ability to manage our many environmental challenges.

Today the Ministry for the Environment called for voluntary redundancies across the Ministry. These along with vacancies not being filled and possible forced redundancies in the future could see hundreds of workers leave the Ministry with the Government requiring it to cut spending by 7.5%.

“Every day the Government’s priorities are becoming clearer and clearer – today it’s decided to put tax cuts ahead of the environment,” said Duane Leo National Secretary for the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

“Climate change is with us; our freshwater is being degraded and our unique biodiversity is under threat, yet the Government thinks it makes sense to cut jobs and funding for this Ministry?

“The PSA supports voluntary redundancies as it allows members to control their own futures and leave if it suits. Our members asked for this knowing cuts were coming and we are pleased the Ministry’s agreed that it be available for all permanent employees.

“But we do not support this cost cutting drive. At a time of unprecedented environmental challenges, it should be a priority to keep investing in the very agency dealing with these.

“The Ministry provides advice on environmental and climate issues, ensures policies and regulations are fit for purpose and monitors and reports on the state of the environment.

“This is a vitally important role – particularly as extreme storm events become more frequent. In 2002 there were just two local states of emergencies declared – in 2023 this had soared to 18.

For example, in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, the Ministry provided important advice on dealing with storm waste, on contamination from flooding and how regions can prepare to adapt to future events.

“The Government is well aware of its critical role. In the official briefing to the new Minister, the Ministry warned that the environment was ‘under significant pressure’ and that effort was needed to ‘if the prosperity and wellbeing of New Zealanders is to be maintained’.

“This is just another example of the short sighted and shallow thinking of this Government, again showing how poorly it is grappling with the serious and complex challenges we face.

“This random and rushed cost cutting crusade will have very real consequences for the environment we all love, and for future generations of Kiwis who are relying on us to wisely manage our environment today,” said Duane Leo.

/Public Release. View in full here.