28 Mar 2012

Heads of Mission sign letter opposing MFAT cuts

6:40 pm on 28 March 2012

The Labour Party has released a letter showing that 49 Heads of Mission believe proposed cuts to Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade would undermine and even destroy its strengths.

Meanwhile Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has revealed that the budget for the group deciding on the changes is over $9 million dollars for this financial year.

The Ministry is meant to cut $24 million a year from its budget, and on Wednesday Labour's foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff asked about the cost of 30 staff in the Ministry's change programme office.

Mr McCully replied that the budgeted cost, including MFAT staff who have been temporarily assigned to the office, fixed-term consultants and contractors is $9.2 million.

Mr Goff has released a letter signed by 49 heads of mission to the head of their department.

They say the changes proposed would severely curtail their ability to pursue New Zealand's economic and foreign policy objectives for years.