Budget fails public services and set to slash public sector

The Government has failed to seize the opportunity to boost jobs or increase public services that the community rely on. Instead this Budget locks in the Average Staffing Level Cap that diminishes the capacity of the public sector to provide the services our community needs.

CPSU members are judging this Budget on two criteria critical to our economy; does it deliver essential public services that the community needs, and does it ensure that the public sector have the resources they need to get the job done.

This Budget fails both of those tests.

Tonight, the Government had an historic opportunity to help us rebuild faster, stronger, and more fairly, with a public service that has the staffing, funding, and tools it needs. Instead the Treasurer and Scott Morrison missed a critical opportunity and will slash the public sector to historic lows.

Today there are 12,100 or 7.3% less public sector employees than there were in December 2013. The arbitrary staffing cap cuts secure jobs, wastes money, and damages service delivery.

There has been some temporary relief in the ASL Cap which sees agencies such as the National Disability Insurance Agency, CSIRO, Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission gain staff, but by 2023/24 the government will slash public sector numbers to a new historic low.

Quotes attributable to CPSU National Secretary Melissa Donnelly:

“Tonight, Australians will be concerned that this Budget didn’t deliver the essential public services they will need to get through this pandemic and recession. If Scott Morrison really wanted to be the JobMaker Prime Minister he would have taken this opportunity to boost the economy through creating the public sector jobs needed.”

“The Prime Minister has said that tonight’s Budget was the most important since World War II, but this Budget fails the Australian community who are looking to government and key public sector services in a time of great national crisis.

“Tonight, the Government failed to seize the opportunity to remove artificial staffing caps, and gives only temporary relief for the pandemic period, with a plan to cut public sector workers to all-time historic lows. Even with the slight increase of 325 extra Services Australia staff, there will be 2,339 or 7% less staff in 2020-21 than when the Coalition was elected.”

“For those hundreds of thousands of Australians directly affected by this crisis, the Government’s failure to address public sector capacity means that you will continue to face long call queues when calling Centrelink, more unanswered calls, and longer waits for those small business trying to access support from the ATO.

“We know that this pandemic has especially affected young Australians and women. There were obvious things the Government could have done to boost employment numbers, including for women, young people, and people in regional Australia. The Government missed a key job creation opportunity by failing to increase the graduate and other entry level public service jobs tonight.”

“Communities across the country have been devastated twice this year, first by the bushfires and now the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Australians were looking to the Budget to deliver an increase in public services, and this budget fails them.”