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Monday, 3 December 2018
Page: 12348


Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (16:23): It's absolutely staggering to witness the brazen denigration of hardworking public servants by ministers in this government. The minister in question in this instance is the Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, Michael Keenan. Under this government, we have seen jobs in Centrelink cut, the use of contractors up, phone call delays up and complaints up. You would think that that climate of dissatisfaction would prompt a rethink. Maybe you'd restore staff numbers. No. Maybe you'd stem contractor numbers. No. Maybe you'd work with the Public Service to resolve these issues. No again. Instead we've seen a doubling down on the justification for using contractors and a fudging of the call number definition to make it look like fewer calls are coming in. Worse, when the minister announces the increased use of contractors, he dresses these up as extra jobs. He disparages the public servants working for the department and he publicly backs his claims about the use of contractors by citing a consultant report that says that contractors are more efficient than public servants. When called to release that report, he hides behind cabinet-in-confidence. He doesn't sit with the Centrelink staff to work these issues out. He has denigrated them. Those call staff have received abuse from the public. He should apologise to Centrelink staff for what he has said and done. (Time expired)