Tonight, the Morrison Government has locked in deep cuts to public services and doubled down on its corrosive dismantling of public sector capacity by gutting Services Australia.

The community has pleaded with the Morrison Government to invest in the public services that it needs to recover from this pandemic, fires, and floods. But instead, as rain continues to fall in flood-affected areas, the Morrison Government has cut a further 2719 jobs or 9.4% of total staff from Services Australia.

It is clear that Minister Gee has been had by the Prime Minister. The package meant to fix backlogs at the Department of Veterans Affairs is all air. There is only $22.3 million in guaranteed funding over two years and no substantial increase in staffing. Last year’s Budget had a more substantial increase in staffing, but even that didn’t make a dent. In fact, in that time the backlog of claims further ballooned to 65,000.

Tonight, the Morrison Government talked a lot about the cost of living but failed to act on wages for its own workforce. We know that there’s one thing they can do right now – allow the public sector to bargain fairly, for real wages increases and secure jobs. Instead, this budget has locked in a pay cut for its own workforce.

Quotes attributable to CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly:

The Morrison Government has tonight locked in deep cuts. After 9 long years in office, the Morrison Government leaves key public service agencies with over 8000 fewer staff and blowouts in backlogs and wait times.

At a time when so many Australians are relying on Services Australia, Scott Morrison has shown his true colours by gutting the services that communities rely on. It is unbelievable that as we watch floodwaters recede, and the clean up just begin, Services Australia staff will be cut by 9.4%.

It is clear that Minister Gee did not get what he needed to fix the Morrison DVA mess. Tonight’s announcement of $22.3 million falls well short of what is required. Under this Government’s watch, the backlog of veterans’ claims has been building for years and tonight’s budget measures will not change that reality for veterans and their families.

There was a lot of talk tonight about the cost of living, but that’s all it was. With the stroke of a pen, Prime Minister Morrison could give secure jobs and a pay rise to his own workforce.

If the Morrison Government was serious about stimulating the economy for pandemic recovery, it would start by giving its own workforce a pay rise, and offer secure employment to the more than 20,000 labour-hire workers who serve the public. Instead, this budget has locked in real wage cuts to the public sector.