18 May 2021

Gallagher slams Zed's hypocrisy on Coalition's $1.5b public service cut

| Ian Bushnell
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Katy Gallagher: APS the fall guy for Coalition’s other spending promises. Photo: George Tsotsos.

Canberra’s public servants can look forward to more belt-tightening under a Coalition Government with an announcement that it will cut $1.5 billion from the Public Service to pay for election promises.

The Community and Public Sector Union says the cut will equate to 3000 jobs.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Finance and the Public Service Mathias Cormann, announcing the costing of its policies, said the efficiency dividend would be maintained at 2 per cent over the next two years, reducing to 1.5 per cent in 2021-22 and 1 per cent the following year.

Labor has promised to forego 0.5 per cent of the the efficiency dividend from next financial year and scrap the staffing cap but the Coalition claims ALP policy to cut contractors and consultants amounts to a $2.1 billion cut to the public service, $600 million more than the Coalition.

ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja has labelled the Labor savings measure an overall reduction in departmental spending, or a 2.5 per cent efficiency dividend.

But Labor Senate candidate Katy Gallagher says the Senator is a hypocrite and the Liberals have shown Canberrans exactly what they stand for this election.

“The Liberals stand for cuts to the APS that will not only hurt local families, but will damage our economy,” she said.

“Zed’s hypocrisy on cuts to the APS is breathtaking especially when yesterday he was spreading lies about Labor’s plans to manage the APS, while at the same time his party was preparing to make the APS the fall guy for their other spending promises.”

Mr Frydenberg and Senator Cormann said in a statement that additional spending on election commitments by the Coalition, beyond what was already factored into the 2019-20 Budget, had been modest and had been more than offset by additional savings.

“Since the Budget delivered on 2 April 2019, the Coalition has made $1.4 billion in new spending commitments over the forward estimates, building to $3.8 billion over the medium term,” they said.

“This is more than offset by a reduction in departmental funding of $1.5 billion over the forward estimates, building to $5 billion over the medium term.”

They said the Coalition would leave it to departmental secretaries to decide where efficiencies could best be found.

“If departmental secretaries assess that these efficiencies can best be secured through reductions in expenditure on contractors, consultants and travel, because that makes sense from a value-for-money point of view, then of course that is what the Coalition would expect them to do.

“Efficiency outcomes will be better and more sensible by letting departmental secretaries make those judgments based on value-for-money considerations.”

Agencies that won’t be affected by the Coalition’s cut include the National Disability Insurance Agency, financial regulators APRA and ASIC; cultural institutions the Australian War Memorial, National Archives of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia and National Museum of Australia; agencies with fewer than 200 staff; and the Australian Signals Directorate and Office of National Intelligence.

Existing exemptions for the ABC, SBS and Safe Work Australia will also be extended.

ACT Greens Senate candidate Dr Penny Kyburz said the Coalition statement was another appalling attack on the public service and its ability to deliver essential services.
“On the eve of the election, to make this announcement shows their continued disregard for Canberra and the hard-working public servants who are struggling to fulfil their remits, with ever-dwindling resources,” she said.
“The Greens will abolish the efficiency dividend, restore the public service so that they can do their jobs, provide the wage increases that have been lacking under the Coalition government, and limit the outsourcing to consultancies and contractors.”
“Labor’s Senate seat in the ACT is safe. The second seat will come down to Zed or the Greens. This announcement is the final straw: Zed has to go. The most powerful way to make that happen is to vote one Greens.”

Labor has also pledged to add 1200 new permanent and full-time Department of Human Services staff; reduce spending on travel by 10 per cent, and reduce the fragmentation of APS pay and conditions.

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So he is a hypocrite for calling out the ALPs deception? They are cutting more out of the APS than the Libs will.

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