Hipkins defends increase in public servants on his watch

Labour leader Chris Hipkins has defended the huge increase in public servants under his government and says the proposed cuts are unjustified.

Ministries have begun cutting hundreds of jobs as they scramble to find the savings demanded by the new coalition government.

Speaking from Polyfest at Auckland’s Manukau Sports Bowl, Hipkins said the move proved the government’s misplaced priorities.

“The government don’t have to do this. They are choosing to fund things like $900 million a year in tax cuts for landlords instead of funding public services.

“The layoffs we’re seeing in the public service are because of the choices the government are making.”

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Thursday said the cuts were an unfortunate necessity after Labour allowed the sector to blow out, increasing the headcount by 16,000 under its watch.

Hipkins said that increase was “in most cases” entirely justified, pointing out the extra staff providing specialist support for students with disabilities, or working on school building projects, or pandemic planning.

“These are the sorts of people who have now got the axe hanging over them who could lose their jobs.”

Hipkins acknowledged there was a need to look for “greater efficiency” but said his government had already begun work on finding savings of about one-to-two percent which could been done while avoiding redundancies.

He said his government also transferred staff at the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment between departments to ensure a focus on critical areas like immigration.

“When the government cut funding for those sorts of things, they’re ultimately in many cases, cutting quality controls.

“If we get a year or two down the track, and we find there are more problems with immigration, it’ll be because the government have been cutting resources for those things.”

‘An amazing event’

Labour leader Chris Hipkins at Polyfest 2024.

Hipkins said he was excited to be at Polyfest.

“Polyfest is a fantastic occasion. I’m looking forward to seeing some of the performances.”

He said it was great to see the look of pride on the students’ faces after they had performed.

Over 200 teams from 69 schools across Aotearoa were in attendance to represent their ethnic backgrounds.

“If those young people engaged here today are also engaging in a bit of political debate – that can only be good for the whole country. We do want young people more engaged in politics.”

Hipkins said Prime Minister Christopher Luxon should attend Polyfest.

“If he gets the opportunity to attend a Poyfest in the future, he should do it, it’s an amazing event.

“It is a great opportunity to see our future.

“The young people performing here today, they are the future of out country and I think as political leaders it’s great when we can celebrate that.”

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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