18 May 2012

Opposition says MFAT process has been damaging

8:02 am on 18 May 2012

The Labour Party says the Foreign Affairs Minister should be held accountable for causing irreparable damage to the country's foreign service.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday announced the final shape of its restructure, saying 79 jobs will be cut rather than the 300 originally proposed.

Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson says the process has been shambolic, damaging the country's reputation, as well as hurting staff morale and confidence.

He says Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has handled the situation badly and should be held to account.

Mr Robertson says Mr McCully has shown he is not capable of being a minister.

Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott says the process has been chaotic and damaging to the ministry and staff.

Ms Pilott says there was an unprecedented level of Government interference in the process and there needs to be clarity about the responsibilities of the chief executive and senior managers and of ministers and the Cabinet.

She says the reduction in proposed job cuts reflects the level of opposition to the original plans.

Meanwhile, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Government's heavy-handed closure of embassies and cuts to staffing has made New Zealand an international laughing stock.

He says the Government is retrenching its trade and diplomatic ties at a time when other countries are upping their offshore engagement.