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O’Connor announces split of MPI functions

Minister for Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor announced today that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will reorganise its functions to create a stronger focus on core responsibilities.

Mr O’Connor says government will set up four portfolio-based entities, Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety.

“Our priority is to achieve greater clarity and unity of purpose for these areas. We are seeking enhanced visibility of government policy and regulatory activities and clearer lines of accountability and engagement for stakeholders.

“We are now looking to the Director General of MPI to work with his team to achieve this, while ensuring prudent and efficient use of taxpayer and industry funds.

“MPI will continue to meet the expectations of our international trading partners as the competent authority.’’

MPI will build up its forestry presence in Rotorua, Mr O’Connor says.

“Rotorua’s location puts it at the heart of our forestry sector and makes it the most appropriate site for a dedicated forestry presence to support the Government’s ambition in this important sector.

“It’s likely further change in the forest space will occur after policy and operational work to deliver the Government’s ambitious goals in this area.”

Reorganisation of MPI’s functions will occur in the early part of 2018 and will be in place by April.

“I would like to thank MPI staff for their commitment and hard work in the primary sector and assure them that there will be no reduction in staff numbers as a result of these changes. This change is about increasing focus and ensuring greater visibility of fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety,” Mr O’Connor says.

The estimated cost to implement the changes is $6.8 million to establish the four portfolio-based business units. Additional ongoing operating costs are estimated at $2.3m per annum.

Mr O’Connor says reprioritised money from the Primary Growth Partnership Fund will pay for the changes so there will be no additional cost to taxpayers.

“This is a prudent and cost-effective change that can be managed with existing monies.’’

Questions and answers

1. What are the changes that are being proposed?
The Ministry for Primary Industries will be reorganised to create a stronger focus on core responsibilities.

Four new portfolio-based entities will be established within MPI – Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety.

As well as the establishment of portfolios, MPI will also expand its forestry presence in Rotorua.

2. What is the Government aiming to achieve?
• Increased focus on portfolios, particularly fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety and a corresponding lift in performance
• Greater clarity and unity of purpose for staff working in portfolio areas, aligned to Ministerial focus
• Enhanced transparency of government policy and regulatory activities within portfolio areas
• Prudent and efficient use of taxpayer and industry funds.

3. Will MPI have a change in name? If not, why not?
No, MPI will not have a change in name. MPI will remain the host agency for the new branches.

The Government has carefully considered the impacts on trade and market access for primary sector exporters of any changes to MPI’s status as New Zealand’s Competent Authority. As such, it is recognised that it is important to maintain consistency with our branding and continue to provide assurances that New Zealand’s products are fit for export and meet the requirements of trading partners and the potential for disruption to trade.

4. Why aren’t separate agencies being set up?
MPI developed four options for changes to MPI for Ministers to consider, including the establishment of separate agencies and services to industry and the public.

The Government made the decision that four new, separately branded portfolio-based entities within MPI is the best option to minimise the cost and loss of productivity to MPI while also achieving the necessary refocusing of MPI.

5. How much will the change cost?
The estimated cost to implement these changes is approximately $6.8 million to establish the four portfolio-based business units. Additional ongoing operating costs are estimated at $2.3 million per annum.

6. How is MPI funding this change?

Funding from the Vote: Primary Industries and Food Safety will be re-appropriated to support the changes required.

Reprioritisation of the Primary Growth Partnership Fund will pay for the new structure so there will be no additional cost to taxpayers.

7. When will the changes be fully operational?
MPI will commence planning immediately. Reorganisation of MPI’s functions will occur in the early part of 2018 and will be in place by April.

8. What is the implementation timetable?
In order to implement these changes, MPI will undergo an implementation planning phase to ensure that all required changes are operationalised and effective. In early 2018, MPI will identify options for how to separate appropriations for the new branches and identify impacts on staff and stakeholders.

Once this planning phase has been completed, MPI will then seek to implement the new organisational structure. MPI intends to commence implementation of the new organisational structure in April 2018.

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