13 Mar 2012

Govt must back down on MFAT cuts, says Goff

10:25 pm on 13 March 2012

The Labour Party says the Government will have to back down from its planned restructuring at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, unless it wants to see a mass exodus of diplomats.

Prime Minister John Key said on Monday said the ministry's chief executive may have been a bit aggressive in some areas, and may have to step back from some proposals.

Mr Key singled out cuts to compensation payments for diplomats with partners working overseas, saying partners are not always able to take a job on those postings.

Labour's foreign affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says however that far bigger concessions will have to made, because experienced staff will vote with their feet if their job security is reduced.

"We're already losing people," Mr Goff says, "and that trickle will end up as a flood as people exodus from the ministry. It's unsustainable, John Key knows it, and now wait for the u-turn."

Mr Goff says the restructuring plan is a complete mess.

Diplomats' partners meet ministry managers

The partners of diplomats have met Ministry of Foreign Affairs managers to voice their opposition to the plan to cut more than 300 jobs.

Several partners spoke at the meeting, giving examples of how they contribute to diplomatic efforts, such as volunteering at the consulate in Egypt to help stranded travellers during riots there.

A spokesperson for the partners, Bronwen Golder, says they often have to sacrifice their own careers to go on overseas postings.

Ms Golder says the group is considering promoting a mass exodus from the ministry if the proposal to cut comnepsation payments is not changed.