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Issue #1834      August 8, 2018

Public service workers

The Community and Public Sector Union’s submission to the Turnbull government’s review of the Australian Public Service (APS) has made 26 strong recommendations to restore capacity and provide much needed jobs and fair and decent employment conditions to improve the work the public service does for the community.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) national secretary Nadine Flood said: “The Commonwealth public service has a vital role to play in our society. It exists for the benefit of the entire Australian community. Our submission provides this review with clear and sensible recommendations to ensure the APS is able to provide the decent and accessible services the public demands, and the expertise and fearless advice needed for good government. The roles and values of the public service need to emphasise that it exists to serve the entire community and not just government.”

Flood pointed out that the APS has been used as an ideological punching bag by the Abbott and Turnbull governments, with workers and the general public suffering the consequences as 18,000 jobs have been slashed, wages have stagnated and job security, working conditions and service standards have declined. The public service has been decimated by years of Budget cuts and the government’s ongoing push to privatise the public sector by contracting out service delivery and through disastrous policies such as the Average Staffing Level (ASL) cap on staffing levels.

“Our submission is based on the considered views sought from the thousands of CPSU members working in the public service, and from the CPSU’s extensive consultation with the community about what they need from Commonwealth agencies and the people working in the them,” said Flood. Unfortunately, the government’s approach seems to be based on the views of a few ideologues from the Institute of Public Affairs, and the private corporations queueing up to cash in on essential public services.

“We’ve provided a number of recommendations to repair the damage this government has caused, including providing adequate funding and abandoning cuts through the so-call efficiency dividend, scrapping the damaging ASL cap and identifying Commonwealth work that has been outsourced or contracted out and bringing it back in house. This review must recognise the reality that the public do not support a neo-liberal vision of ‘small government’.

“Beyond that our submission outlines the critical role the APS has to play in tackling the major challenges facing Australia, such as growing inequality, low wage growth and cost of living pressures including housing affordability.” Flood says the APS should be offering solutions both as an employer and as the powerhouse of policy development in this country. When it comes to the deteriorating working conditions and wages and declining job security generally the union says the APS needs to be part of the solution, not contributing to the problem as is currently the case, by creating decent, permanent jobs including in regional areas and offering decent wages and working conditions and job security to underpin a prosperous future.

“We believe this review must also provide clear guidance on how technology and digital services should be used to enhance rather than downgrade public services by focussing on outcomes and community needs, not cost. The public sector also needs to restore its in-house expertise to ensure decisions around technology are made in the public interest, not to line corporate pockets.”

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