Tasmanian State Service review not an opportunity to cut jobs, says Gutwein

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday February 25, 2020

Peter Gutwein AAP/Rob Blakers

A review of the Tasmanian State Service set to be completed by the end of the year will not be used to slash public sector jobs, according to Premier Peter Gutwein.

During a speech at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia’s 2020 Economic and Political Overview event in Hobart on Monday, Gutwein said the terms of reference for the review had been finalised.

“The review will identify structural, operational, service, practice and legislative improvements to ensure the public service is in the best shape to deliver the services Tasmania needs,” he said, repeating exactly what his predecessor Will Hodgman said in November.

“The terms of reference include ways we can look at innovation, how we can better deliver for communities, the effectiveness and efficiencies of the broader public sector [and] greater collaboration between the public and private sectors.”

Gutwein noted the State Service Act was nearly two decades old, and assured a review would be focused on benefitting the public, not on job cuts.

“I’m not going to use this review as an opportunity to slash the public sector. It’s about getting better outcomes for Tasmanians,” he said.

Shadow treasurer David O’Byrne rejected this claim, stating Gutwein has a “sinister agenda”.

“Peter Gutwein has waged six years of war with the public service attacking jobs and frontline services,” he said in a statement.

“The terms of reference released today talk about efficiencies, economies and streamlining and we all know that’s code for cuts.

“This review is a Trojan horse for cuts to jobs and frontline services.”

Consistent with Hodgman’s terms of reference last year, the review will be led by former secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Dr Ian Watt, who has also led the federal Defence, Finance, and Communications departments.

He will be assisted by a reference group with both public and private sector experiences, plus a representative from unions and the not-for-profit sector.

Watt will examine the following key areas of focus:

  1. Facilitating public service change and innovation that improves the delivery of public policy and services to support the aims of government and meet the needs of the community,
  2. Identifying opportunities to improve the delivery of government services, programs, projects and other initiatives, including information technology platforms,
  3. Identifying ways to promote collaboration and partnerships including to support more flexible movement of employees between the private sector , non-government and community organisations,, and the public sector,
  4. Achieving greater economies and efficiencies in TSS administration, including opportunities to streamline bureaucracy and services where suitable,
  5. Examining the effectiveness and efficiency of government services, including the appropriateness feasibility of further decentralisation,
  6. Facilitating areas of cultural change within the TSS (e.g. promoting risk-based decision making, increasing diversity, promoting innovation, improving accountability and identifying ways to enhance performance),
  7. Identifying ways to help develop the long-term capability and agility of the TSS,
  8. Implementing enhanced workforce management processes across the employee life cycle, including opportunities to implement improvements to how the TSS recognises, develops and manages employee performance, and,
  9. Attracting, developing and retaining a skilled public sector workforce with the capacity to meet emerging economic, social, environmental and technological opportunities and challenges.

Hodgman announced his resignation in January, stating it was the “right time” for someone else to take the reigns.

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