The MPI published its report on the incident last week, which stated that MPI’s handling of changes to export certification to China were responsible for delaying the exports.
“The review clearly shows MPI made mistakes when changing the templates used for certifying meat exports to China. These mistakes resulted in delayed acceptance of these exports,” said MPI director-general Scott Gallacher.
He added that the mistakes had been “compounded” by a failure to react quickly and appropriately to the incident, and stated that the MPI would develop a China strategy, and invest in more staff and training to strengthen relationships between the MPI and Chinese authorities.
The Public Service Association (SA) praised the MPI for not seeking to blame individuals and recognising that additional investment was necessary.
“The Ministry has acknowledged that it has organisational lessons to learn out of the incident and has been supportive of the staff involved. It’s good to see it is not seeking to pinpoint individuals or pursue any staff performance or disciplinary action as a result,” said SA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.
He added that government budget constrains had resulted in “significant” cutbacks at the MPI over the past few years.
“It’s no secret that MPI staff have been under enormous pressure due to a lack of resources and a loss of experience across many levels of the organisation. Staff have repeatedly raised concerns about the impact the cuts have had on their workloads and their ability to adequately respond to all of the issues,” he said, adding that it was “refreshing” to see the department work constructively with staff to address problems.