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Monday, 26 November 2012
Page: 13240


Ms LEY (Farrer) (21:07): I think it is important that the member for Melbourne acknowledge that both state and Commonwealth Labor governments have presided over drastic cuts to the public service. I know that he, like those opposite, would like people to believe that public sector job cuts are strictly the modus operandi of coalition governments. Yet Labor's own modelling projects 4,200 full-time jobs to be shed from the federal Public Service, with further modelling showing federal Labor will cut more than 12,000 employees by the end of 2014-15. We have seen around 4,000 jobs go already under various efficiency-dividend mandates.

Mr Katter interjecting

Ms LEY: Even the Greens do not have immunity here. In Tasmania, the state Greens-ALP alliance is, similarly, shedding jobs, due to their grave mismanagement of the Tasmanian economy. They also appear to be a little confused as to how many jobs have actually been cut.

Mr Katter: There's a fair few going in your electorate—I was up there last week.

Ms LEY: The member for Kennedy talks about coming to my electorate; he has not bothered to come into this House to vote, on, I think, 120 occasions—perhaps that is the record you would like to take to the people of Farrer, member for Kennedy?

Mr Katter: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I claim to have been misrepresented. The member reflected upon me for not voting in this House. We do not vote on party political issues; we call them party games.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Symon ): There is no point of order.

Ms LEY: Mr Deputy Speaker, if you would ask the member for Kennedy to please desist from his interjections on my speech, I will not remind him of his voting record in this parliament.

Mr Katter interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! It would be far better for everyone in the House that the member for Farrer be heard in silence, as is her right.

Ms LEY: I was referring to the mismanagement by Tasmanian Labor of the Tasmanian economy. Not only does it appear that the Tasmanian government is struggling with their basic maths, but the make-up of job losses is worthy of comment. Two-thirds came from essential services—health, police and education—with just three from the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Campbell Newman has been forced to take large cuts to the public sector directly as a result of the former Labor government. Under Anna Bligh, we saw economic mismanagement of debt to the tune of around $85 billion, once we factor in Labor commitments yet to be paid for. Yet it is important to note that those who are being made redundant will receive their full entitlements in nearly every single case. Public expenditure growth in Queensland has been well above the national average. As expert in public administration Ken Wiltshire pointed out in the Australian recently, there was:

… a blowout in the amount spent on public servants across the past decade, at 8.7 per cent a year. Of that, 3.5 per cent was attributed to the number of employees and 5.2 per cent to growth of wages.

This blow-out occurred entirely under Labor. So, while it is regrettable, there have been necessary cuts.

Queensland Health has somewhere in the vicinity of 80,000 staff today; 10 years ago it had 49,000. Yet the fact that almost three-quarters of the cuts are covered off by annual, natural attrition does not really give those opposite adequate ammunition for a suitable scare campaign. They would have you believe that there will be no-one left standing in the Queensland public service. In fact, so determined was Minister Shorten to prove his point that he felt it necessary to jump on a plane to Queensland to announce his commitment to standing by and protecting Queensland public servants. In fact, what he did was make it even harder for recently retrenched Queensland public servants to get a job. I do wonder whether recently redundant Canberra public servants are questioning why the federal minister felt it appropriate to do this when he kept silent on their redundancies, because they were the result of his own federal colleagues. He has also been noticeable for his absence in all instances where state Labor governments have undertaken public sector redundancies.

On the topic of protections for public sector employees, I say this: public sector staff across the board have high levels of protection in place. Their redundancy payouts are going to be paid. They are not going to be left hanging. And they can rest assured that their entitlements will be paid in full. This motion will achieve nothing, barring tying up valuable time of the standing committee on the political whim of the member for Melbourne. Therefore, the coalition will not be supporting this motion. All this serves to do is to act as a distraction from the real issue—the abysmal economic management of various state and federal Labor governments and their own penchant for slashing public servants while appeasing their union mates.