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Rudd Labor to sack 35000 public servants?

By Passy 24 January 2009 85

This article first appeared on my blog En Passant with John Passant (http://enpassant.com.au)

The Rudd Labor Government’s next budget in May will take a meat axe to vital public services and public servants.

As Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said recently: “We have got further efficiency work (sic) under way – the second phase of the razor gang.” (Danielle Cronin and David McLennan ‘PS pain not over as China hits the wall’ The Canberra Times Friday January 23 2009 page 1.)

He went on to say: “It’s all about squeezing more out of the lemon, cutting out waste, getting greater efficiency, but time will tell how successful we are.”

Ominously, Tanner said that the number of public service positions had grown from 212,000 to 247,000 under John Howard in his final years in office.

Remember 1996 when Howard and Costello sacked 25,000 public servants and axed a large number of programs?

Tanner is softening us up for the HowRudd Government’s version of 1996. Given the benchmark Tanner is using – 212,000 compared to 247,000, could this rotten Labor Government be tempted to go further than Howard and Costello and sack 35,000 public services and axe vital programs across the board?

The CPSU – the public servants’ union – has condemned the comments, saying you can’t get blood out of a stone. The CPSU accepted the 1996 attacks. It should take a stand now. Instead of being an acolyte of Labor, it should defend its members.

If you are a public servant, and not a union member, now would be a good time to join.  But don’t imagine that somehow the “union” will save you without you doing anything. The union leadership is essentially a conservatising force, afraid of industrial action and wedded to the ALP and the fear of upsetting it.  So if you do join, join prepared to argue and agitate for mass meetings, demonstrations, bans and strikes to defend public services, jobs, wages and conditions. Join and fight!

These meetings, bans and strikes should be on the union agenda now to force the Government to back down before their attacks become a debilitating and confidence destroying fait accompli. The added bonus is that such action would help rebuild the union, tainted from years of collaboration with the employer and class enemy – Hawke, Keating, Howard and Rudd.

This looks unlikely from the CPSU leadership. Instead the Union is affiliating with ALP branches around the country. In Canberra these moves are just beginning. The talk is of influencing the ALP from the inside. The union may as well join the Liberals for all the good it will do.

This entryism is doomed to failure because managing capitalism for the bosses demands attack on workers. That’s the essence of the ALP in times of economic crisis, and no amount of “influence” is going to change that. In fact the end result is more likely to be the host ALP taking over the parasite CPSU.

This affiliation nonsense is the consequence of the CPSU limply rolling over to governments for 25 years. The alternatives are affiliation or action to defend jobs. I’m in favour of action instead of passing do nothing resolutions through the ALP and getting do nothing officials on to the backbenches.

Strike to defend vital public programs, jobs, wages and conditions.

What’s Your opinion?


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Rudd Labor to sack 35000 public servants?
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Passy 2:34 pm 14 Feb 09

Thanks Peter.

I think we may eb talking at cross purposes. the latest ATO news is its plan to move its Operations sub-plan – debt collection, return processing etc – from 1% of contractors to 25%. And to increase permanent part time employment at the expense of full time employment.

So it may be that the IT model in soem form is going to be imposed on other areas of the ATO too.

peter@home 2:24 pm 14 Feb 09

Passy said :

I see that the Tax Office’s plans to privatise some of its operations and, according to one union, get rid of 3000 staff, have been made public. The ATO talks in terms of efficiency and world’s best practice and natural attrition and cost effectiveness – weasel words – but what it means is less ATO people (in Canberra and across the country) working for us.

Other agencies will no doubt be planning similar attacks on staff.

Presumably the Government knew about the ATO plans. Certainly it does now. The Rudd Government’s approach appears to be to let Departments do the dirty work of getting rid of people rather than them doing it directly (although some of that might happen in the May Budget when the Rudd Government axes some ‘inefficient’ programs).

So this news about the ATO slashing staffing numbers (oh, but only over the long term, and by natural attrition, and outsourcing) presents a political dilemma for Rudd Labor. Presumably they support the ATO becoming more ‘productive’ and ‘efficient’ (that’s the logic of the efficiency dividend). But they don’t want to be seen publicly supporting a key agency which performs one of the key state functions (collecting revenue) when it cuts staff and privatises and outsources its functions.

I look forward to hearing weasel words from Treasurer Wayne Swan or Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen (Swan needs all the help he can get) on this.

Passy,

you need to take a closer look at the staff levels of the ATO vs EDS, its outsourcer. There have already been cuts by the new owners of EDS, in the realm of 3,000 over the next 3 years. Gershon has recommended the removal of over 35,000 PS positions, but these are all contract positions, not FT or PT permanent positions.

The only reason sir peter gershon came to Australia at all was the he did his very “important” work for gratis. (the rudd government paid for his travel, accomodation and meals only)

he has re-hashed old ideas. The last time labor were in power, they had panel period contracts. Those of us in the ICT industry, and the public servants of the time remember the DAS and DAAS departments. these systems did not work, and were abandoned.

the problem faced by rudd is if he removes vital skilled contractors from the departments, they will cost him far more in the long term when he finds that he needs them later on. But, he will be seen to save cash in the short term….

as for privatising and outsourcing, you may find that it was due to inefficiencies that the ATO went back out to tender for a replacement provider.

Passy 12:38 pm 14 Feb 09

I see that the Tax Office’s plans to privatise some of its operations and, according to one union, get rid of 3000 staff, have been made public. The ATO talks in terms of efficiency and world’s best practice and natural attrition and cost effectiveness – weasel words – but what it means is less ATO people (in Canberra and across the country) working for us.

Other agencies will no doubt be planning similar attacks on staff.

Presumably the Government knew about the ATO plans. Certainly it does now. The Rudd Government’s approach appears to be to let Departments do the dirty work of getting rid of people rather than them doing it directly (although some of that might happen in the May Budget when the Rudd Government axes some ‘inefficient’ programs).

So this news about the ATO slashing staffing numbers (oh, but only over the long term, and by natural attrition, and outsourcing) presents a political dilemma for Rudd Labor. Presumably they support the ATO becoming more ‘productive’ and ‘efficient’ (that’s the logic of the efficiency dividend). But they don’t want to be seen publicly supporting a key agency which performs one of the key state functions (collecting revenue) when it cuts staff and privatises and outsources its functions.

I look forward to hearing weasel words from Treasurer Wayne Swan or Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen (Swan needs all the help he can get) on this.

jakez 9:28 am 13 Feb 09

Woody Mann-Caruso said :

I love Canberra with all my heart however I simply cannot accept that the level of bureaucrats that we currently have in this country is desirable

Based on what? Oh, “my brother in law said so”. How many is desirable? Here – I’ll hold your handbag while you bend over to pull out a number.

Based on my political beliefs and yes anecdotal evidence.

Not being the Minister for Finance I can’t give you a specific number which is were the first part of the above sentence comes in.

You are a very antagonistic person here I’ve noticed. Such venom. I LOVE IT!

neanderthalsis 9:26 am 13 Feb 09

rose1 said :

Plenty of jobs in the nursing homes in Canberra and Woolies in Dickson

Be a big shock for some going from PS payrates to minimum wage. Still better than joining the ranks of the unemployed though.

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