DoC supporters rally over job cuts

More than 100 people turned out to support the Department of Conservation today writing messages of support at Tauranga’s Red Square.

Forest & Bird Tauranga are hosting ‘Love DoC Day’ to express concern over the recent job cuts that will affect 24 positions in the organisation’s East-Coast/Bay of Plenty region.


Tauranga resident Bruce Trask thinks the 24 jobs cuts in DoC’s Bay of Plenty East Coast Conservancy are short-sighted by government.

The cuts include seven jobs in Gisborne, four positions in Rotorua, four in Whakatane and four jobs in Opotiki. They are part of the 140 job cuts nationwide, recently announced by the Government.

Tauranga resident Bruce Trask, who works in the environmental sector, believes the Government’s decision is “pretty short sighted”.

“These guys are out there looking after our future. I am pretty one-sided because I have heaps of grandchildren – but we need these experienced people to maintain our natural environment and those that live in it,” says Bruce.

Forest and Bird volunteer Anne Graeme is at Red Square to help rally people to write a message.

“I’ve been passionate about the environment all my life – DoC staff are the professionals in our world – us volunteers cannot do it all.”

Anne thinks it is a “cynical play” by the government to expect volunteers and corporates to take up the slack of work from the job cuts.

“We need the leadership of the field workers and their knowledge – one third of land in this country is conservation land – it is our recreation, our tourist areas and our ‘clean green’ credentials,” says Anne.

Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage says the job cuts are replacing ranger staff in the field – where the work is being done – with bureaucrats in Wellington.

The 140 jobs being lost in DOC field centres and regional centres comes while 29 new positions are being created in Wellington, says Eugenie.

“Are they taking staff out of places where they do field work to bung them offices and get volunteers to do the work – if not, what will they be doing if they’re not out in Opotiki or somewhere advocating for DoC – will they be running volunteer programmes,” asks Anne.


Forest and Bird Tauranga branch committee member Kate Graeme and volunteer Anne Graeme are encouraging people to show their love for DoC.

Forest and Bird Tauranga branch committee member Kate Graeme is pleased with the turnout today.

“Lots of people are very interested in this issue and have got very strong opinions about it – as you can see from some support messages: ‘DoC kicks ass’ and ‘We need a new Prime Minister’,” says Anne.

“The interesting thing is that we are seeing a cross-section of the public with lots of elderly people visiting us but also many young people too.

“This is about the importance of our natural environment and the need to ensure DOC is properly funded to fulfil their mandate and protect it for all New Zealanders,” says Kate.

Forest & Bird general manager Mike Britton says his organisation wants to send a powerful message to the government to cancel the cuts, and show this government that looking after DoC is an essential part of looking after New Zealand.

“This country’s national parks are at the heart of our clean green image, yet this government is forcing DoC to run on a budget less than that of the Hamilton City Council,” says Mike.

“Since 2009, $54 million has been slashed from DoC’s budget – it has lost 10 per cent of its full-time staff in the last year.”

The Public Service Association, representing more than 1400 DOC staff, is hoping communities throughout the country will get behind Forest and Bird’s Love DOC.

PSA national secretary Brenda Pilott says the planned cuts will hit frontline jobs and operations across DOC’s regional network.

“In some of the smaller regions where DoC staff not only manage conservation but are integral to their local communities, the impact of any job loss will be felt strongly,” says Brenda.

People can fill in an online form at: http://forestandbird.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=056bc28505444958c9358e331&id=67b1a5e0e7&e=f1ff1e2df1> for Forest and Bird to deliver to a local DoC office. To help share the ‘love’ wear a green ribbon and email a pic to:  lovedoc@forestandbird.org.nz or post in on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/forestandbird




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5 Comments

2 sides to every story

Posted on 12-04-2013 13:51 | By Fanifo

Firstly I would like to give my sympathies to those who are losing their jobs at DOC, these are real people, with real families and commitments to look after. Always we default to getting rid of jobs instead of looking at the real cause of the problem. I started of in the "great" NZ Forest Service - a department with so much knowledge and skill that got axed instead of being rethought of - the idea of keeping production forests to help of set the cost of looking after our important areas for conservation was never considered. The old philosophy of lets sell everything we want the money now - was used. I also have spent many years working for DOC and have seen a lot of wasted money, some through bad planning and some through staff just spending it on what they want, without any checks or controls, and discipline where needed. Things can always be done more efficiently, and in DOC there is areas for this, but by reducing the skill and knowledge base is not the key. We live in a world of government departments needing to run as a commercial venture - gone are the days of government budgets being endless ( well thats how some feel as they rush to empty their budgets each year) DOC has a great job to do and with the support of those loyal hard working ( and dare I say aging) volunteers we can help preserve this great country of ours. Please leave the staffing numbers, just re educate the spending - maybe look at contracting some basic work out, but we still need the skilled and knowledgeable rangers in the field.

Tabatha

Posted on 12-04-2013 13:37 | By pomfart

I agree with your suggestion Tabatha, the bit about it being very unlikely. That’s because it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t think going to China to watch a few parades and be hounded by the media counts as a holiday. If it did I would be asking for a refund if I was Key. You clearly have no idea what is involved in running a country and establishing trade links. I’m not a Key fan or a National fan but I understand politics and economics. It is amazing that you talk about a dictatorship yet people like you with no understanding at all get to vote.

Balance?

Posted on 12-04-2013 09:51 | By ronillian

Nick Smith talks about achieving between envionmental development, growth and jobs on one hand and environmental protection and conservation. Does he really think this National Govt has got that balance right? look at the rounds of paycuts and job losses in DOC, allowing prospecting permits on conservation land, harsher draconian new legislation against deep sea oil protestors (crushing dissent to make it more attractive for investors) by our very own Simon Bridges, reforms to the RMA such that it tips the balance in favour of development instead of environmental protection? Wake up, NZers, to all this "politician-speak".

@tabitha

Posted on 12-04-2013 05:42 | By Sambo

we had to endure 12 years of "Helens Socialist" dictatorship and government agencies getting fatter not leaner, while I am all for protecting the environment, I would like to see action, not paper shuffling, and staff punching their lunch ticket.

JUST ANOTHER NAIL BY KEY

Posted on 11-04-2013 17:27 | By tabatha

We need to protect and nourish what we have and this Government, if you can call them that, are spending overly in some areas and cutting badly in others. we are entering 3rd world living and almost dictatorship. I just wish the Central Government would take note of people and what they want. I would like to suggest any further trips overseas by National Party members done at their own expense. (Not likely)

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