Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

DoC job cuts scaled back after budget top-up

The restructure of the management changes were still expected to go ahead.  Photo / NZ Herald
The restructure of the management changes were still expected to go ahead. Photo / NZ Herald

A last minute Budget top up for the Department of Conservation is likely to mean only 80 staff will lose their jobs rather than the original 140, estimated in a restructuring plan announced last month.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced that DOC would get an extra $20 million over the next four years in the Budget, which is tagged for extra frontline staff and upgrading recreational facilities.

It comes just a month after Doc Director General Al Morrison announced the draft plans for a restructure of the Department, under which 140 staff were expected to lose jobs and a flatter management structure put in place.

Dr Smith said the extra funding was partly prompted by the concerns raised in reaction to the Doc restructure, especially concerns that it would leave area offices and field centres with too few staff. He said $15 million of the funding - about $3.8m a year - would be used to increase the frontline workforce by about 60 staff, such as visitor information, support staff and rangers working on hut and track maintenance, and protecting threatened species.

He said that would offset about 140 mainly management roles which would go under the restructure.

The remaining $5m will be used for recreational facilities.

He had announced the funding early so it could be taken into account before the department finalised its restructure plans.

The restructure of the management changes were still expected to go ahead, as was the increased focus on trying to get businesses, iwi and volunteers to contribute more.

Dr Smith said another factor in securing the funding was because of the Government's increased focus on tourism.

"It recognises that Doc is the Government's primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry.''

The extra funding will mean Doc's total budget for 2013/14 will be $338m rather than the $333m it would have been. That was down from $341m in the 2012/13 year.

Key numbers

$20m Budget top-up for DoC has been secured by Conservation Minister Nick Smith
80 staff positions will go instead of the original 140 estimated
$15m of the funding - $3.8 million a year - is for 60 extra positions such as visitor information, support staff and rangers
$5m will be used for recreational facilities

- NZ Herald

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