His first term was marked by the sacking of 14,000 public servants, but Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says a re-elected Liberal-National Party government won’t cut any deeper into government services.
Asked on 4BC radio yesterday if voters should expect more cuts to the public service, Newman (pictured) said: “I don’t believe so.
“We had to make some strong decisions a year ago. The people concerned were looked after in terms of how they were dealt with.
“But at the end of the day that’s done and I don’t see any need for anything like that in the future. For the first time in 10 years as we go into the next financial year we’ll actually have a fiscal surplus.”
But Labor doesn’t want voters to forget the pain of public service cuts. Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would use the first week of the election campaign “reminding Queensland of the savage cuts to jobs and services right across the state”.
“We will be travelling around regional Queensland this week and I will be reminding families of Queenslanders out there about the havoc that this government has put upon [them] over the past three years,” she said.
“Three years of cuts to services, three years of cuts to health jobs, three years of having people on the unemployment scrapheap not having the opportunity to gain a job.”
Despite the turmoil of the last three years, the state’s Public Service Commission reports sentiment among workers is rising. Commissioner Andrew Chesterman told The Mandarin in October that with the “fiscal repair reductions” completed the task of “building the culture and the values across the public sector” could begin.
A survey of public servants released late last year showed improved numbers on job engagement, job empowerment, role clarity and goal alignment. But Chesterman said managers had to work on communicating change better.
With the writ issued for the January 31 poll, departments have been advised to follow caretaker conventions requiring increased care in progressing policy initiatives.
The government is likely to hold onto power, despite polls showing a resurgent Labor vote. The opposition holds just nine seats in the 89-seat Parliament. But Newman is tipped to lose his seat of Ashgrove, meaning a new premier will have to be elected in February.
More at The Mandarin: Queensland’s new phase of service reform: empowering leaders