Eric Abetz’s olive branch: public servants ‘deserve more credit’

The minister responsible for the Commonwealth bureaucracy says public service is under-appreciated, but “tough times” means forced redundancies were necessary.

The Commonwealth minister in charge of the latest public service cuts has acknowledged the difficulty of shrinking the APS in “tough times”, saying he is mindful that each forced redundancy is a fellow Australian and makes more difficult the workload of those that remain.

Speaking at the public sector’s awards night on Thursday, Employment Minister Eric Abetz asked those who survive the cull to not think of public service as a meal ticket, but an “exceptionally high calling”.

“As a government we do in fact notice the Australian public service and are highly appreciative of the fantastic job that you do especially at the moment in these exceptionally difficult financial circumstances,” he said. “If we keep borrowing money to pay interest on existing borrowings, I’ve got to say to you, times are tough.

“When I’m given the numbers on a regular basis by the long-suffering commissioner [of the public service, Stephen Sedgwick], I’m very mindful of the fact that they are not only numbers but each one of those represents a fellow Australian who hopefully some of them are natural attrition going into retirement, but I know a lot of them aren’t and may not necessarily be that excited to be leaving the Australian public service. Of course, as the numbers shrink, the tasks and the workload does become more difficult as well.”

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