Defending the Public Service - Statement by Members (February 2012)

In response to the previous speaker's mention of Facebook, the challenge, too, is with kids putting all these sorts of images up of themselves. It may be fun to share these with their mates when they are in their late teens, but they can have knock-on effects on their careers, particularly if they are looking at getting into the protective security arena, into the police or into the secret services. They can have broad-ranging repercussions. There might be a little joy and titillation in the short term but there can be serious repercussions in the long term.

I rise today yet again to defend our public sector against what has been a sustained campaign by those opposite to undermine and deride our Australian Public Service. I am proud to defend our Public Service from any vexatious attack, so bring it on. In fact, I have done it in this place many times since I was elected as the member for Canberra. In my very first speech to parliament I asked this question: why would you scorn people who dedicate their lives to public service?

In light of the member for North Sydney's promise to make 12,000 public servants redundant for a start I ask that question again today.

The member for North Sydney certainly has a good track record when it comes to our Public Service. He first mentioned cutting 12,000 Public Service jobs last year and in a speech to parliament in August I testified how chilling it was to watch him make that announcement with such carelessness and disdain for the people who work hard to serve our community. At a time when we are watching countries in Europe tear themselves apart over record unemployment and at a time when this country is going through structural change and advancing towards becoming a new economy, it is disappointing to see an opposition trying to get political mileage out of job losses.

While the Gillard Labor government continues to manage the economy to protect and create jobs, those opposite continue to boast about cutting jobs should they win government. Their plan for this country is to cut jobs, not create them. Their plan for Canberra is to introduce a two-year recruitment freeze to reduce Public Service numbers, effectively cutting 12,000 jobs. A staffing freeze will mean the loss of corporate knowledge and core workforce skills. It will limit the number of incoming graduates, which will result in a cap on Public Service management in future years. This is not something that could be easily undone. These kinds of cuts would take decades to repair.

And it is not just the public sector that would suffer the consequences. I do not believe that those opposite fully appreciate the way that this city works. They do not seem to understand that cutting 12,000 public sector jobs will result in a loss of jobs in the private sector as well. Our city's private sector relies on the public sector. When the public sector is strong, so is private enterprise. Job losses in the public sector equate to job losses in the private sector. Cutting one job will have a much wider impact on the economy. As long as I am in this place, I will defend the women and men in the Australian Public Service, because public servants are after all servants of democracy. They deserve much more support than what they get from members opposite.

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