Labor has pledged more than 1000 new secure APS frontline service delivery jobs and less reliance on labour hire and consultancies as part of its plan to reinvigorate the public service.
Public Service spokesperson Senator Katy Gallagher said Labor if elected would spend $500 million rebalancing and rebuilding APS capacity and capability after years of cuts from the Morrison Government and wasteful spending on outsourcing work to the private sector that could be done in house.
Labor’s already announced promise to abolish the staffing cap will be accompanied by a reduction in spending on private external labour by $3 billion over four years.
The new frontline jobs, totalling 1080 positions, will be at Services Australia, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Senator Gallagher said Labor’s plan would reverse the Morrison Government’s privatisation of the public service by stealth.
“At the same time as cutting front-line jobs, the Liberals have presided over a significant increase in spending on private external labour including consultants, contractors and labour hire firms,” she said.
This was not only costing taxpayers more but also condemning tens of thousands of public sector workers to the risks and stresses of insecure work, Senator Gallagher said.
She said Labor’s Plan to Reduce Waste and Reinvest in the Australian Public Service built on previous commitments made as part of Labor’s Plan for Secure Australian Jobs.
“The last two years have shown just how important it is to have the APS resourced appropriately so that it can meet the needs of and deliver services to the Australian community,” Senator Gallagher said.
Senator Gallagher has previously said that Labor would convert inappropriate temporary contracts to permanent positions. They would conduct an audit to identify insecure work within the APS, limit the number of consecutive fixed-term contracts an employer can offer for the same role, with an overall cap of 24 months and ensure labour-hire staff receive no less than workers employed directly.
She said that prior to the pandemic the APS had lost 12,000 jobs.
The public servants union said the commitment to limiting expensive consultancies and instead reinvesting in secure public sector jobs would make a big start to reversing the extensive damage caused by Coalition Governments.
The CPSU said Labor’s frontline jobs commitment would make a genuine difference to services and ease the pressure on staff.
National Secretary Melissa Donnelly said Labor’s commitment to scrap the arbitrary cap on secure work would mean thousands of workers in insecure labour contracts will get the opportunity for secure jobs.
“There are talented staff across the APS who can do the work currently being handed to consultants and contractors,” she said.
“It is in the interests of both the capacity of the APS and staff to keep this work in-house. Every time public sector work is siphoned off to consultants it is a missed opportunity to build capacity and capability and in a tightening labour market if staff are constantly overlooked for consultants, they’ll simply go elsewhere.
“Labor’s commitments will also help restore transparency and accountability to government. Ministers like to go to consultants because the minister can be sure they will get the answer they want.”
Ms Donnelly said Labor’s commitments would help reduce waiting times and improve access to services in critical areas such as Veterans’ claims processing, Centrelink and Medicare services and the NDIS.