As predicted, Canberra and the ACT region are bearing the brunt of the government's harsh and sweeping Public Service job cuts. The Abbott government has overseen 272 redundancies at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to date, three-quarters of which have been Canberra based. Half of the Department of Human Services' 254 post-election retrenchments have been from Canberra. Meanwhile the tax department is feeling the full force of the Abbott government's axe. It has been reported that up to 8,000 jobs may go in total. There have already been 1,140 redundancies in the last financial year and that figure is expected to be closer to 3,000 by October.
And what of the Abbott government's pre-election promise that every single Public Service job loss would be made through natural attrition—a promise that ACT Liberal Senator Seselja spouted on an almost daily basis in the lead-up to the election? Like most of this government's pre-election promises, it is not worth the paper it was written on. We know that there have been at least 70 forced redundancies at the Australian Valuation Office and many more at tax, which has opted for a 'spill and fill' method of shedding jobs.
Member for Hume, you should be worried about this. These are your constituents too. Unsurprisingly, the Public Service attrition rate has dropped since the election: why would anyone voluntarily leave their job when there are no other jobs to go to? These job losses—including some in the member's electorate —the indefinite hiring freeze in place and the threat of privatising Public Service functions are taking their toll on Canberra's economy and the ACT region. Over the five-week sitting break, I visited small businesses in Fyshwick, Woden, Phillip and Manuka. I spoke to business owners, staff and customers and it was the same story in every location. Consumer confidence has been down since the election. It dipped even lower in the leadup to the budget and it is still low.
Canberra learnt the hard way in 1996 that slashing Public Service jobs hits our economy hard. Remember 1996? While the government is still in the early days of its Public Service cuts—we are still waiting for the Commission of Audit—the impact on our economy has already begun. It is going to get much worse. But Canberra is not alone in shouldering the cost of these job cuts. Recent Senate estimates answers analysed by T he Canberra Times show that the government's plan to slash 16,500 Public Service jobs by mid-2018 will cost the taxpayer close to $1 billion in redundancy payouts. The average payout is close to $64,000. The Abbott government's mass Public Service job cuts are not just bad for Canberra; they are bad for the region and they are bad for— (Time expired)