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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10371

Australian Public Service

Mr PYNE (SturtManager of Opposition Business) (14:15): My question is to the Acting Prime Minister and it follows his previous answer. Will the Acting Prime Minister confirm that his government has cut 750 staff from Customs, 97 staff from the Australian Federal Police and 144 staff from the Australian Crime Commission? Can he confirm that these cuts were made not by a government that inherited a budget deficit and crushing debt but by a government that inherited a $22 billion surplus and no net debt?

Mr SWAN (LilleyDeputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:16): We now know why the shadow Treasurer did not ask this question. It is because the shadow Treasurer has been going around the country saying that there are 20,000 too many public servants in Australia and he is going to take the axe to those public servants. So he has not had the guts to front up and ask the question. He has had to throw it to the Manager of Opposition Business. But we on this side of the House, as I said before, are committed to responsible fiscal policy and to making the savings to put in place the priorities that we have, particularly in health and education.

We have found savings over five budgets—$100 billion during our first four and $33 billion during our last savings exercise. We have found efficiencies in the public sector. The one thing we have not been doing is taking a big axe to jobs like those over there—

Mr Simpkins interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Cowan will leave the chamber under 94(a). His constant yelling across the chamber will not be tolerated.

The member for Cowan then left the chamber.

Mr Pyne: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order on the matter of direct relevance. Members on this side of the House are being ejected from the chamber for quite rightly asking the Treasurer to simply answer the question.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: People are being asked to leave the chamber because they are not following the standing orders. The Acting Prime Minister has the call and will refer to the question before the chair.

Mr SWAN: We on this side of the House have a methodical approach to finding savings in the public sector. We have been doing that in a responsible way over the time that we have been in government. That is why we have put in place those essential Labor priorities. The biggest increase in the pension in history was put in place because we found room in the budget. The tripling of the tax-free threshold was put in place because we are committed to putting in place policies which reward hard work and make sure that people have access to the essential services that they need, in particular in health and education.

I am asked about the Public Service and I am asked about figures. The Public Service has had an annual growth of just 0.8 per cent over the five years since we came to office ending in 2012-13. That has been the growth in the public sector in the period that we have been in office. It stands in stark contrast to the proposals from those over there not only to cut 20,000 from the public sector; we have not yet got to their hidden agenda, the one they are not going to tell people about until after the next election if they win, which is how they will get to filling the $70 billion crater they have in their budget bottom line—the Campbell Newman approach.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The Acting Prime Minister will return to the question.

Mr SWAN: Everybody here is aware they will not have their policies costed at the Parliamentary Budget Office. On this side of the House we have been entirely transparent. We are proud of what we have done with the public sector. We recognise the very good work it does. We recognise the importance of front-line services, unlike those opposite, who want to have a scorched earth approach to the public sector and the services in health and education on which so many Australians depend.