Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully says it's no secret the restructure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will not be as drastic as initially thought.
Documents leaked to Labour foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff showed a reworked plan for the ministry would cut 146 jobs, down from 304. The expected savings are now $12 million, little more than the cost of the $9 million restructuring.
The ministry originally aimed to save $40 million, with $24 million in savings coming from the restructuring. Mr Goff said he had further information which showed $3.3 million would be spent on consultants in the next year to implement the changes.
Mr McCully told Radio New Zealand this morning that Mr Goff was trying to manufacture an issue when there wasn't one.
"Mr Goff wants to pretend that it's news that he's found some material in a cabinet paper that reflects exactly what I set out in a letter which I sent to the media some weeks ago,'' Mr McCully said.
"As far as the jobs are concerned, let me be quite clear: I made it clear in my letter that the proposals that were originally outlined to staff were at the overly ambitious end of the range.
"I made it clear that the outsourcing proposals in particular would result in us losing low-paid staff around the Pacific and Southeast Asia and I ruled those things out.
It's a matter of simple arithmetic to work out they roughly halve the number of job losses.''
Mr McCully said the changes to the ministry were still the subject of discussion and no decisions would be finalised until the Government was satisfied.
It was unfortunate that a discussion about the restructuring was taking place through the news media rather than directly between the ministry and the government.
The papers are expected to go before the Cabinet next week and show 53 foreign policy or diplomatic roles will be cut, of which 39 were senior positions and 93 back-office roles. The ministry has also backed down on proposals to cut the allowances of diplomats serving overseas, such as spousal allowances.
The proposal to make staff reapply for another job after returning from an overseas post will also be scrapped if the draft documents are correct.
Mr Goff said that despite the apparent U-turn on those controversial changes, significant damage had already been done. He had also been leaked documents from trade negotiation staff which showed the restructuring had dented staff confidence.
``They put out these big proposals that absolutely turned the ministry on its head, disillusioned people and now they've backed down on a significant number of those big proposals.