Tomorrow, for the first time in a decade, a budget that does not have the fingerprints of the Coalition all over it will be handed down.
So, for the first time in a decade I have hope a government budget will focus on building public sector capacity, not cutting it.
A budget that moves away from artificial staffing caps and reliance on outsourcing and consultants, to reinvesting and resourcing secure public sector jobs.
The past decade has seen working conditions for APS employees worsen, pressure grow, career progress become stunted, and wait times for services and backlogs blow out. All while thousands of jobs were lost and outsourced in the blink of an eye.
The former government did not value the public service. They did not invest in it, believe in it, or support it.
And so now the Albanese Labor government has the huge task of rebuilding it - both back to what it was and beyond.
There are a range of public sector agencies and services that need urgent attention - including in the Department of Veterans Affairs, Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency.
Understaffing, privatisation and budget cuts under the previous government have resulted in veterans waiting years for their claims to be processed, people with disability and their families left without the services they need, families left in limbo due to visa backlogs and a social security system in tatters.
The work of rebuilding these services must start on Tuesday night.
It doesn't stop there. This year we've seen lines winding around the block and massive delays of people getting their passports, as the Morrison government had failed to plan for the post-COVID surge.
Our public service needs to rebuild capacity and stand on the world stage.
This means rebuilding policy capability in the key challenges in our changing world, like climate change.
All of this requires an investment in the public service.
Fixing our public services will take time, but the work must start now.
Addressing the long-term damage to the public service and fixing public services will also significantly improve the working lives of those who work in our public sector.
But the difference now is that we have a government that has committed itself to the task of rebuilding the public service, to addressing the use of consultants and outsourcing and turning inappropriate insecure work into secure jobs.
The CPSU will be there every step of the way ensuring those intentions are converted into actions, and that those actions generate tangible change. The kind of change that improves both the working lives of those who work in our public sector and the services that they deliver.
In Services Australia we've seen a big shift already - in June, this year there were 1,090 workers engaged under labour hire arrangements. There are now only 63 labour hire workers with most transitioning to public service employment.
In DVA work has started on hiring 500 more public servants to speed up claims processing.
It will be critical that this is accompanied by action on the government's commitment to transition 1000 labour hire workers to permanent public servants.
In Home Affairs there have been 500 more public service jobs created to deal with the visa backlog, it will be important that these jobs are made ongoing to keep up with demand.
For a long time, we have seen governments throw millions of taxpayer dollars at consultant and contractor spending and hollow out the skills and experience of our public sector. But just a fortnight ago, the Minister committed to establishing an in-house consultancy hub which will see more public service workers doing the work they want to be doing.
We are absolutely heading in the right direction, but our members across the public service all know there is more to be done.
So, what does success look like on Tuesday evening?
We must see an end to the wasteful outsourcing, labour hire, contractor, and consultant spending.
We must see investment in more secure and ongoing public service jobs.
We must see a commitment to the rebuilding of a public service that provides frank and fearless expert advice to government.
The public service must become a model employer that can continue to attract and retain the most talented and motivated staff to deliver for our country.
The CPSU and our members will be watching closely to ensure the new government's commitments are delivered and implemented in a way that works for our members.
I am optimistic for the future, for the public sector and for pay and working conditions.
The union movement being able to work with the government and not being forced to work against it is an exciting prospect for the lives of everyday Australians, their careers, and their workplaces.
National Secretary, Community and Public Sector Union
-- First published as an Opinion in the Canberra Times