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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5240


Mr LYONS (Bass) (18:26): I stand today to ask the Assistant Treasurer and Minister Assisting for Deregulation a few points about the budget that relate to his portfolio, noting in particular some of the efficiencies savings announced in the recent budget. In the 2013-14 budget, the Gillard government has made $43 billion of responsible and targeted savings over the forward estimates that improve the budget bottom line. These savings improve the sustainability of Australia's public finances and ensure we can make smart investments for the future. They allow us to put in place the nation-building reforms that set Australia up for future success and provide sustainable funding for the National Plan for School Improvement and disability care. These reforms are very important to Australia's future. We are a government that is forward thinking in its policies in the Labor tradition. Labor is the party of Medicare and the PBS and prides itself of its record of delivering policies that help Australians when they need it most, regardless of their income or their postcode. These savings the government has outlined contribute to returning the budget to surplus over the forward estimates and deliver a sensible pace of fiscal consolidation. I note that this has been achieved despite revenue write downs of around $60 billion over four years since the 2012-13 mid-year economic and fiscal outlook.

I thank the minister for recently visiting my electorate of Bass, where he met with local businesses in northern Tasmania. It is evident that the Assistant Treasurer understands the needs of the business community, and I know that the people in my electorate who spoke with Minister Bradbury during his visit appreciated hearing his thoughts on the 2013-14 budget.

It is my understanding that improving the efficiency of the Australian public service will deliver around $600 million in savings over the next four years. And, for the second year in a row, the budget shows a small decrease in the number of core public servants, not including military reservists and ASIO. Since December 2007, the Labor government has achieved over $14 billion in public sector efficiencies and better government practices. I understand that we have driven efficiency reforms across government, including in travel, advertising, property management and IT. So, to start with, Assistant Treasurer, can you take me through the details of the cross-portfolio savings in the public service efficiencies measure? Can you also take me through some of the changes that were made in last year's MYEFO? Have you seen a reduction in some areas, like travel, as a result of these changes? What new measures have been included in this year's budget that will help contribute towards these targeted savings? I also understand the government has also released a document outlining all the efficiencies found in the public service to date—$13 billion at July last year.

Has there been an increase in the efficiencies found? If so, can you give me the new quantum of savings found? I know the Gillard government greatly values the work of the Public Service. As a Labor government, we know the decisions that could result in staff reductions are decisions that should not be made lightly. A Liberal government cannot make the same promise. Unlike the Liberals, we believe a strong Public Service is essential to support the community and to deliver critical government programs and schemes. I would appreciate your thoughts on efficiencies in the Public Service and on other points I have raised briefly this evening.