The CPSU (representing Commonwealth public sector workers) welcomes Labor’s announcement today that it will rebuild and reinvest in the Australian Public Service (APS).

Labor’s commitment to limiting expensive consultancies and instead reinvesting in secure public sector jobs will make a big start to reversing the extensive damage caused by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Governments.

Under the Morrison Government, too many Australians trying to access critical government support through Services Australia (Centrelink), the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIS) and Veterans’ Affairs, have instead experienced anxiety, stress and frustration at waiting times, delays and problems. Labor’s commitment to more than 1,000 secure frontline staff will make a genuine difference to these services and ease the immense pressure on frontline workers.

Spending on consultants and contractors has more than doubled under the Coalition Government, with some consultants charging more than $5,800 per day for work that APS staff would do for a tenth of the price. Widespread consultant usage undermines the public service role of providing frank and fearless advice and represents the privatisation by stealth of policy development.

The Coalition has long claimed that labour hire is more efficient than APS employment, but evidence from the Government’s own departments – including evidence to the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide – shows otherwise. These contracts are more expensive and less efficient; costing the taxpayer up to 50% more than work performed in house, because of the fees and profits of the labour hire providers, while services suffer and workers are denied decent pay, conditions and job security.

The Labor commitments to fully scrap the ASL cap, audit the use of labour hire and casual work, and convert insecure roles into ongoing APS jobs will cut waste, strengthen public service capacity, and are a lifeline for the thousands of workers the Morrison Government has condemned to the stresses and anxieties of insecure work.

Quotes attributable to CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly:

“We welcome Labor’s commitments, which represent a big start on reversing the enormous damage the Morrison Government has done to the APS and to services to the community. 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. 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.”

“Labor’s commitments will help reduce waiting times and improve access to services in critical areas such as Veterans’ claims processing, Centrelink and Medicare services, and the NDIS. CPSU members have been campaigning for these changes for a number of years and it is pleasing to see that if there is a change of government, we will see real progress on improving the capability of the APS and the services it offers to the Australian community.”