22 Aug 2013

Govt needs to give MPI more resources - Labour

6:35 am on 22 August 2013

Labour says the Government will have to reinvest in the Ministry for Primary Industries if it's going to be able to reassure trading partners about the safety and quality of New Zealand's dairy products.

While Government and industry inquiries into the botulism contamination incident continue, the ministry has said it's acting now to try and shore up the dairy supply chain.

It's going to have staff on site at processing plants, increase domestic testing of dairy products before they're exported, run product tracing simulations and make sure processors have suitable risk management plans in place.

Labour primary industry spokesperson Damien O'Connor believes the plan is a step in the right direction.

But, he said, if MPI is going to pull it off, the Government's going to have to reinvest in it.

And Mr O'Connor said Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy\ needs to show the staff charged with carrying out the new roles some respect.

Mr O'Connor said he's had feedback that there is a lot of unease within the department.

"I have some sympathy for the staff, they've been through a massive restructuring, they've had $26 million cut from their budget and then they had a minister who went out in public and openly slammed them," he said

Mr O'Connor said the minister needs to step up and give staff the proper resources, as well as the assurance that he will back them as they implement these new provisions.

More than 200 roles at the Ministry for Primary Industries disappeared during restructuring in 2011/12.