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Christchurch public services relocation at what cost?

The Government’s new integrated programme for relocating public services in the Christchurch CBD raises concerns about what will be cut to pay for it, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Maryan Street says.

“The Government’s plan to house 18 departments in the CBD to help kick-start the central city area is a good idea. However, with no new money to cover the cost of the move, agencies will have to fund it out of their baseline budgets.

“Some 1700 public servants from a range of departments and ministries are going to be accommodated in the central city area but the State Services Minister cannot say how much the project is costing and how much each agency is going to have to pay to relocate.

“In answers to recent written questions from Labour, Jonathan Coleman confirmed there was no new money available and the agencies would have to take the costs out of their baseline by reprioritising.

“We all know that reprioritising means cutting. So what will be cut? The Minister initially said he intended to save $110million annually on rents over the next three to four years, but had to revise that to within the next 10 years. He said that this will be achieved mostly by slashing space, but will they all fit in?

“We have just seen the Auditor-General’s report on the Central Agency Shared Services exercise in Wellington. That hasn’t worked yet, despite millions being spent on it in the past few years.

“Can the Minister guarantee that this Christchurch initiative won’t be another disaster?” asks Maryan Street.