Just a day after Finance Minister Bill English warned "the squeeze is only just starting on the public sector", State Services Minister Tony Ryall has signalled further jobs will go over the next three years to add to the 2384 that have been cut in the past three years.
Mr Ryall yesterday announced National's state services policy, which featured a reduction in the cap in public sector jobs.
Before the last election, National campaigned on capping rather than cutting core public service jobs. However, under that cap, core government administration jobs fell from 38,859 to 36,475.
Mr Ryall said the cap would remain but would drop to the current staff level.
The purpose of the cap was to "send a very clear signal that we've got to keep focusing on back office administrative costs, get those down so that we free up resources for the front line".
Mr Ryall said a media poll had shown services to the public had improved despite the reduction in staff numbers.
Rather than directing departments to shed staff, Mr Ryall said public sector chief executives had been given zero budgets or no new money to run their departments.
"Of course they will make some decisions about their staffing within that."
However, a number of departments were told in the last Budget that KiwiSaver contributions that were previously made through a central fund would in future be made from operating budgets, effectively reducing them considerably.
Asked whether the job losses over the next three years would be similar to the 2300 since 2008, Mr Ryall said: "I don't think it will be of that level."
Recent projections suggested 500 jobs would go over the next two years, he said.
Labour leader Phil Goff scoffed at Mr Ryall's new cap.
"They said they were going to cap it, not cut it, last time - and they cut it by 2500.
"That's another broken promise. How can you believe anything they said?"