Investigation underway into leaked Cabinet paper on Fair Pay Agreement repeal

  • 05/12/2023

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has launched an inquiry into a leak of a Cabinet paper on the Government's plan to repeal Fair Pay Agreements.

Newshub first obtained the leaked Cabinet Paper on Monday. It showed the move to repeal FPAs would disproportionately impact women, Māori and Pasifika and young people and that Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden was at odds with official advice.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon on Tuesday morning confirmed the ministry was looking into the leak.

"I have every confidence in my Cabinet. What I have been informed is that MBIE, on their own volition, started up an investigation. That is good they are taking it seriously and they are acting swiftly about it." 

He said the investigation had been a proactive move by MBIE rather than one the Government had asked for. Any decisions around punishments if someone is identified as the leaker would be for MBIE, the Prime Minister said.

The Cabinet paper showed that despite Treasury saying women, young people, Māori and Pasifika people could disproportionately benefit from FPAs, van Velden didn't believe the FPAs would be successful. 

Luxon appeared unaware of the leak when Newshub first asked him about it on Monday afternoon. 

He said the Government doesn't believe the FPAs add value. He said they add costs to businesses, leading to higher inflation.   

The repeal of FPAs is included in the Government's action plan for its first 100 days in charge.

"It's something that we opposed in Opposition as did the other parties in the coalition as well and it's something we want to push on and actually get repealed," said Luxon.   

Council of Trade Unions president Richard Wagstaff said the repeal would have a significant impact on workers.

"There's hundreds of thousands of workers and the official advice we're talking about is hundreds of millions of dollars would have been lost from them," he told Newshub. 

He said it revealed a lot about the character of this Government.

"In a cost of living crisis that they said they're going to resolve, they're deliberately going after the wages and conditions of poor and vulnerable workers."

Labour's workplace relations spokesperson Camilla Belich added the plan to scrap FPAs will leave New Zealand's lowest-paid workers worse off.

"Instead of helping people with the cost of living like National promised during the campaign, they're taking away the opportunity of fair wages, pay and conditions right before Christmas," she told Newshub.

"I call on Christopher Luxon to scrap his plans to hurt workers and do the right thing."