Election 2022: Coalition’s APS funding cuts to put 5,500 jobs on the line

By Melissa Coade

Wednesday May 18, 2022

national secretary Melissa Donnelley
CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelley. (CPSU)

The CPSU estimates thousands of public sector jobs will be lost as a result of a Liberal plan to strip $3.3 billion from the APS to pay for its election promises, with the consequence of funnelling more money into the private sector. 

The Liberal plan was revealed in a costing document on Tuesday, effectively putting departments and agencies on notice their costs would be trimmed under a Coalition government.

The reallocated money will see billions taken away from the public service over the forward estimates — $2.7 billion from direct funding cuts and $653 million by pushing superannuation contributions onto agencies — if the government returns to power. This will result in less-effective and less-responsive government services, the CPSU claimed.

Union national secretary Melissa Donnelley said the Liberals’ choice would have a ‘devastating impact’ on jobs and services, reducing APS capacity to support members of the public.

“Let’s be clear about what these cuts to the public sector mean — they mean people wait longer on the phone to Centrelink, veterans wait longer for claims to be processed and backlogs will continue to grow,” Donnelly said. 

“At a time when so many in the Australian community rely on essential public services, the Morrison government has turned its back on the community.”

According to The Guardianthe prime minister rejected claims the cuts were ‘mean spirited’ following the tireless efforts of public servants responding to the pandemic. Scott Morrison told reporters in Darwin yesterday the $2.7 billion cut would be made to a total budget of $327.3 billion across the public sector.

“That is something that I think is entirely sensible and, frankly, taxpayers would be demanding, that these types of sensible efficiencies are achieved and that is part of the process of managing a good budget,” Morrison said.

“It doesn’t impact on programs or services at all. It never has.”

The Coalition plan comes in stark contrast to the Labor party, which has pledged a capability investment agenda that will see permanent APS staffing numbers restored and reduce consultant spend. Labor argues its approach is a far more sensible, cost-effective stratergy for designing and delivering government services. 

Donnelly said that after the efforts of the APS to steer the community through the pandemic, fires, and floods, job cuts in excess of 5,500 APS positions was not the answer. 

“Since being elected in 2013, the Coalition has already ripped $3.9934 billion in funding out of the public service and cut 8,000 public sector jobs. At the same time, they have handed over $5 billion to private companies outsourcing public sector work,” Donnelley said.

“The Australian community cannot afford another 5,500 APS job cuts.”

Under the Liberal plan, some government agencies will be exempt from the cuts. They include the NDIS, ABC, SBS, Safe Work Australia, Australian Signals Directorate, Office of National Intelligence, Emergency Management Australia and National Recovery and Resilience Agency.

Labor’s industrial relations spokesperson Tony Burke told a press conference from parliament on Wednesday morning should his party be voted into power, Labor would be a ‘model employer’ for the public sector. This reflected his stance on whether public servants should get a pay raise in line with rising inflation. 

“We had made a commitment — Anthony made it last year — in terms of procurement, that we would use the spending power of government to promote secure jobs; and in terms of our own relationships, should we win government, with the people of members of the public service,” Burke said.

“We believe you have to have a commitment to be a model employer. That’s a commitment that we have. It’s not one shared by our opponents,” he added.


Election 2022: How Morrison’s threat to increase efficiency dividends might impact your department

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