Tonight the Morrison Government will deliver the 2021-22 Budget.
We all know the crucial role the Australian Public Service has played over the last 15 months since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as we look ahead we also know the public service will be a key part of our national economy.
Our community and economy will rebuild faster, stronger, and more fairly with a strong public service that has the staffing, funding, and tools it needs.
We will be watching the budget closely to judge how it delivers for you and the public services that Australians rely on.
What do we know so far?
A significant number of big-spending Budget measures have already been announced for areas such as childcare, infrastructure, the digital economy and aged care. However, it remains to be seen if this budget will go to the broader underlying issues holding back the Australian Public Service - issues such as the staffing cap and the efficiency dividend - and enable the APS to truly deliver the services we need.
We have seen some signs of positive change for the APS such as increased funding for the nation’s cultural institutions and in the biosecurity area, after significant campaigning by CPSU members and the wider community. We don’t know yet if these are enough to drive the change needed in these areas or undo the damage of the last 8 years.
On other key areas such as staffing in the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, we are still waiting to see if the Government has been listening to the service community and our members.
We know that since 2013, 13,836 or 8.5% of public service jobs have been cut under successive Coalition Governments and about a quarter of all jobs in the APS are labour hire. This is undermining the long-term capability of our public sector and exacerbating the insecure work crisis this country now faces.
Jobs must be secure and the wages crisis must be resolved
The Government has flagged the inclusion of job creation measures in its Budget, but any such measures would be seriously undermined if it fails to address the problems of insecure and casualised work and historically low wage growth that have been on display throughout this pandemic.
While measures to arrest the record low wages crisis are desperately needed in this Budget, the Government’s own APS bargaining policy, tying APS pay rises to the private sector Wage Price Index (WPI), will cement low wages growth across the private as well as public sectors.
The Government must lead on secure jobs and record low wages by scrapping its economically destructive bargaining policy and removing the ASL cap to enable agencies to employ additional staff on a permanent basis and to convert current insecure jobs to permanent employment. Creating new public sector jobs, particularly in the regions, and ensuring that existing jobs provide job security and good wages and conditions, is essential for economic recovery.
A good budget would provide the public sector with the staff, funding, and resources we need to support the services all Australians rely on.
We will keep up the pressure
CPSU members have been building community support for our public services. We’ve broken through the staffing cap in Services Australia and NDIA, and fought off privatisation in Home Affairs.
We’ll be in touch with you after the Budget is handed down, with our analysis of what it means for you and your families.