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Tasmania’s public sector cull: Treasurer outlines numbers

Tasmanian Treasurer Peter Gutwein has announced the details of where 861 full-time equivalent positions will be cut from Tasmania’s public sector over the next year.

Gutwein said in a statement to Parliament that the government will take the opportunity to “further streamline” the Department of State Growth — created from the merger of the Departments of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources and Economic Development — by cutting 174 FTE roles. This will be the largest cut relative to the size of a department, meaning State Growth will contribute 20.2% of total savings from the cuts this year.

Education will be required to find total savings equivalent to 266 FTEs this financial year of a total 8000 FTE staff. The health system — comprising the Department of Health and Human Services and the three Tasmanian Health Organisations — accounts for roughly 40% of public sector employees and must eliminate 224 FTEs.

A further 157 FTEs will be cut from other, smaller agencies.

Gutwein said that so far there had been 823 expressions of interest in Work Place Renewal and voluntary redundancy programs.

The government emphasised that it had made an effort to “quarantine” frontline services from the cuts, insisting service delivery would not suffer.

Only the police would be protected from cuts, as the Police Association had agreed to the government’s earlier pay freeze proposal.

The Tasmanian state budget originally planned for the elimination of 361 FTE jobs and a one-year pay freeze for public servants, but the government changed course after Parliament delayed voting on the pay freeze legislation amid claims it did not have enough time to consider the changes. As a result, 500 more jobs must be found.

Opposition Leader Bryan Green was scathing about the cuts:

“I can only describe the ministerial statement that’s just been put forward by the Treasurer as a dog act. It’s a disgrace that you’ve got your workforce wanting to negotiate with you and yet you put out a document with no emotion whatsoever in the way that you delivered it.”

The Community and Public Sector Union recently proposed a six-month pay freeze, but this was rejected by the government as inadequate in addressing the state’s budget shortfall.

Author Bio

David Donaldson

David Donaldson is a journalist at The Mandarin based in Melbourne. He's previously written for The Guardian and Crikey and holds a masters in international relations.