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Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Page: 650

Public Service

WYATT ROY (Longman) (14:45): My question is to the Minister for Education and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service. I refer the minister to a report in today's Daily Telegraph which says that the previous government had secret plans to cut 14,500 jobs from the Public Service over the next four years. How is the government planning to respond to the uncertainty created by these revelations, and what is their impact on other government plans?

Mr PYNE (SturtMinister for Education) (14:45): I have seen the reports referred to by the member for Longman, and I can tell him that the government will respond by firstly reviewing our own promise made before the election: that we would have 12,000 reductions in the Public Service through natural attrition. The important thing is that we promised, before the election, and we were completely up-front and honest with the Australian public about our plans for the future—quite unlike the opposition.

The second part of the question was about implications for the wider aspects of the government's plans. One of the things that need to be explained to the Australian public is that, as well as the previous government pretending that they would not be cutting anything from the Public Service while actually having secret plans to cut 14,500 public servants across the board, they had not funded their redundancies in the forward estimates in the budget. So in fact this is just another addition to the Bowen black hole that this government unfortunately inherited two months ago. The Bowen black hole will mean that the deficit and debt will increase because of the previous government's legacy to this new government. Indeed, this was one of the booby-traps that Labor left in the budget for the new government. This was one of the booby-traps from the boobies on that side of the House: a cut of 14,500 to the Public Service.

It is even worse than that. The Leader of the Opposition himself—dripping all that sincerity that he likes to affect when he goes to various places around Australia—said at the CPSU conference in Melbourne on 16 August during the election campaign:

As a Federal Minister for almost three years, I have had the privilege of a front row seat and gained a unique appreciation of the work that our public sector employees do for this country each and every day. Your stories go quietly on, a few attracting discreet bouquets. But so often you are the subject of economic vandalism inspired by conservative ideology. We all know the solution to our nation’s challenges is not to cut to the bone.

Tragically, he was not going to give them bouquets; he was planning on hitting them with an anvil after the election. But, thank goodness, he was not elected. The truth is: the coalition was entirely up-front with the public servants of Australia about our plans. I feel betrayed; but imagine those public servants who voted Labor, believing it would secure their jobs only to find that Labor was waiting for them with an anvil after the election.