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Issue #1632      March 26, 2014

Treasury Secretary highlights Public Service job cuts

Outgoing Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson is right to highlight the impact deep public service cuts are having on the bureaucracy’s ability to do its job, says the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).

As the tally for federal public sector job cuts under an Abbott government passes the 5,000 mark the CPSU said Mr Parkinson’s warning of a “growing gap between what the community expects from government and what government can sustainably provide” is timely and long overdue.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “When Martin Parkinson says public service can no longer ‘sustainably provide’ services the community expects you have to sit up and take notice. We strongly endorse his comments.

“Our members have been saying for years that the public service is not a magic pudding, that successive cuts are taking their toll on their ability to deliver the policy and services that this country deserves. You can’t keep cutting jobs and expect the same level of services.”

In its submission to the Senate Committee into the government’s National Commission of Audit, the CPSU says:

“Successive cuts to the public service are taking their toll on major agencies like Human Services, Customs, Tax and Agriculture which are all working at full stretch.

“Further cuts of between 14,500 and 26,500 jobs as flagged by government would seriously impact the delivery of services.

“Cuts to the Australian Public Service will have a disproportionate impact on employment outside the ACT, particularly in rural and regional areas.”

Ms Flood said: “If this government is seriously considering cutting anywhere between 14,500 and 26,500 jobs then it needs to lower people’s expectations of government. The government can’t say it hasn’t been warned.”

In an address to the Institute of Public Administration of Australia Mr Parkinson said job cuts could no longer be absorbed simply by people working harder, as has been the case. “Needless to say, this is not sustainable, and it also crowds out any attempts to think differently – and smarter – about prioritising our resources,” he told the audience.

Ms Flood said government would do well to listen to an experienced voice in Mr Parkinson, one of the country’s most senior public servants.

“His warning should prompt a sober and wide-ranging debate over what we as a society expects of government. The community expects high-quality services and it is up to the government to ensure they are fully funded and properly resourced. Delivering tax cuts to big business as well as relying on a public sector running on empty is not the way to do it.”

Ms Flood warned that the forthcoming Budget was likely to deliver further cuts to services and jobs, which would only worsen the situation.

“The Budget will of course be informed by the National Commission of Audit which embarked on its quest to examine the scope of government’s efficiency and productivity with one outcome in mind – to recommend deep cuts, outsourcing and privatisation.”

Next article – Ruling in favour of younger workers

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