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6 November 1997
A new provisional structure for the merger of the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry was announced today. The new ministry, which comes into effect in March 1988, will be led by chief executive designate, Bruce Ross.
The new Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will have a policy function, a regulatory authority, an operational group, a forestry management group, corporate support and MAF Quality Management.
Transition Manager, Ross Tanner, said the merger resulted from a government decision to bring the two ministries together in order to facilitate the best contribution from the land-based sectors to New Zealand's welfare through sustainable economic growth and environmental quality.
"The two ministries had complementary and duplicated activities in many areas, such as border activities, biosecurity and policy advice," he said. "The structure outlined today brings together those synergies and streamlines operations while preserving a focus on forestry, biosecurity and sustainable land use.
"Users of the core regulatory and operational services of existing ministries can be assured that these services will not be affected by the merger."
"As far as cost savings are concerned, indications are that the $2.5 m sought by Government has been found. A further $2 m has also been found through Government's decision to cease the purchase of most forestry and agricultural facilitation services from the new ministry. These include some advisory services to industry and potential investors, technology transfer and certain publications. The savings from the facilitation services have been transferred to the tussock moth eradication programme.
"It is not yet possible to identify how many redundancies will result from the merger," Mr Tanner said. "These will not be known until the employee transfer process is completed, in late February next year. However, redundancies will be less than might normally be expected as both ministries have been operating a non-replacement policy over recent months."
There will be four functional groups under the proposed structure.
A new Operations group will take over quarantine services and the Verification Agency.
The Forest Management group will manage and/or administer the Government's forestry responsibilities including; forestry encouragement loans, the East Coast Forest Project, Crown lease forests on Maori land, disposal of Crown interests in forests on leased Maori land, Northland Facilitation Project, indigenous forests and forest health. This group will retain its presence in the regions and ensure that forestry expertise is retained.
MAF Regulatory Authority will develop, set and promulgate sanitary and phytosanitiary (SPS) standards as they relate to standards, specifications and assurances for; animal welfare and ethics, animal products, forest products, plants and plant products, dairy products, seafood and seafood byproducts, chemicals, agricultural compounds and veterinary medicines and domestic food safety and food safety for export.
The role of the Policy group will be to provide advice to the Government on agricultural, forestry and biosecurity issues.
Ross Tanner said, "It is early days yet in the merger process. However the development and release of this proposed structure will give staff and stakeholders a
meaningful concept upon which they can comment and plan.
"The next step in the process is to consult with key stakeholders, including staff, gauge their reactions and take on board their views. There will be further announcements as progress is made."