Grant Robertson apologises to James Shaw over 'communication breakdown', but Chris Hipkins not as concerned

Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Tuesday morning said he was planning to apologise to Climate Change Minister James Shaw after the Greens co-leader reportedly said he wasn't told of some spending cuts.

Shaw later told media he had received an apology and had accepted it.

"Look, these things happen from time to time," he said.

"We have a good constructive working relationship with the Labour Party. I think what it does show, of course, is that we need more Green MPs in the next Parliament, more Green ministers and we need to be sitting around the Cabinet table so we are a part of those decisions."

Robertson earlier said Shaw should have been informed about the cuts, some of which related to climate programmes.

"It appears there was a communication breakdown around that," he said. "I will have a chat with James and apologise to him for that. He definitely should have known about it."

But Prime Minister Chris Hipkins doesn't seem as concerned, telling reporters on Tuesday that Shaw wouldn't get consulted on every decision.

"If there was stuff that relates specifically to his area, then he would have been informed about that," Hipkins said.

Robertson on Monday announced the Government was clamping down on contractor and consultant spending, trimming some programmes, and pulling back on the amount of money planned to be spent on future Budgets. It's expected to result in about $4 billion in savings over the forecast period.

Some of that will come from what is being called 'immediate savings', essentially programmes that have had underspends or which the Government doesn't believe need all the funding that was allocated towards them.

Among them were programmes that received funding from the Government's Climate Emergency Respond Fund (CERF). This included about $50 million on reducing agricultural emissions and $50 million on giving people more active transport choices.

Newsroom reported that Shaw said he knew the Government was working on a savings programme and had reviewed some policies he was directly responsible for that didn't end up being cut. He was aware of $10 million being cut from a waste programme, but other cuts were news to him.

Hipkins was asked on Tuesday why the Government didn't inform Shaw and the Greens that climate change spending was going to be affected by the savings programme.

"Well, these were savings that were identified by the ministers concerned. I wouldn't have expected necessarily if they weren't in his portfolio area, I wouldn't necessarily expect they would be."

He said that almost every aspect of government activity has an impact on climate change."

Hipkins believed there would have likely been some discussion with the Greens about cuts affecting their portfolio areas, but he wasn't personally involved.

Asked why Shaw wasn't told about funding that originally came from CERF, Hipkins said the specific programmes didn't necessarily all fall under Shaw's portfolio.

On top of the $1.5 billion found in immediate savings, the Government is hoping to save about $1.4 billion in baseline savings, and another $1 billion by trimming back future Budget allowances.