06 February 2012

NZ government luring top staff with relocation payouts

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Recently revealed information shows that New Zealand's State Services Commission secured the talents of some top bureaucrats by offering as much as NZ$50,000 (£26,000) to cover flights, accommodation and New Zealand visa expenses.

New Zealand visa

Foreign executives are being tempted to New Zealand with large salaries and relocation payouts.

The commission, which is responsible for ensuring New Zealand's public sector organisations run effectively, had kept how they were managing to tempt top staff with a New Zealand visa a closely guarded secret but a ruling by the Ombudsman's office forced them to reveal the details.

The State Services Commission claimed in a statement that the amount offered to top executives was an appropriate estimate of how much it costs to emigrate to New Zealand and that the amount would have to be repaid if they leave the job within a year.

Some commentators have voiced their surprise at the relocation payments, especially when taken into account the salaries of the positions they are offered with.

Kevin Woods, who formerly ran NHS Scotland, earns almost NZ$50,000 (£26,000) a month as the Director-General of Health while Education Ministry Chief Executive Lesley Longstone, formerly the Director General of Young People in the UK's Department of Education, earns approximately NZ$660,000 (£348,000) a year.

Other foreign talent recruited by the State Services Commission include American Janet Grossman as the head of Work and Income and the head of the Treasury, Gabriel Makhlouf: another Briton. The Inland Revenue and Economic Development Ministry also have high ranking executives from outside of New Zealand.

There have been concerns that such high ranking positions have not been filled by native New Zealanders with Labor State Services Spokesman Chris Hipkins stating New Zealand "should be able to fill these positions ourselves."

Iain Rennie, State Services Commissioner, declined to comment on the issue but said on the commission's website that "chief executive vacancies are widely advertised. While the majority of chief executives are New Zealanders or have a New Zealand background, the search can extend overseas in order to reach the broadest range of talent."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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