30 Nov 2012

Labour targets MFAT head on pay

10:23 am on 30 November 2012

The Labour Party has criticised Ministry of Foreign Affairs chief executive John Allen for accepting a pay increase during a year in which it says the ministry's restructuring was botched.

Labour MP Phil Goff questioned Mr Allen - during a tetchy hearing at Parliament's foreign affairs select committee - about the state of the ministry following the restructuring.

In his opening statement to the committee, Mr Allen said the ministry had had a year of which it could be proud.

But Mr Goff said staff turnover had trebled and only 15% of ministry staff felt engaged.

Mr Allen rejected suggestions that staff felt that way.

Mr Goff said the chief executive was simply defending his minister, Murray McCully, who was behind the restructuring.

He questioned why Mr Allen got a pay increase of $40,000 when the restructuring at the ministry was badly handled.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Government has still not decided whether it will vote for a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade Palestine's status from observer entity to observer state.

A vote in favour would boost Palestine's recognition as a sovereign state.

The vote is on Thursday (New York time) but Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade chief executive John Allen told Parliament's Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the situation is still unclear.

Prime Minister John Key has said New Zealand will not vote against the resolution. But he is not sure whether to vote for it or abstain.