Page 1121 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 3 May 2022
The coalition have a well-known and horrific track record with their treatment of the public service and their disdain for the ACT. They have an official policy of decentralisation of the APS away from Canberra, and there have been over 5,000 APS jobs lost from the territory since they took office in 2013. Barnaby Joyce gave the best example of this bungled policy with his attempt to move the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to Armidale in 2016. With little consultation, no planning and no forward thinking, Mr Joyce unilaterally announced the move, which was clearly aimed at shoring up his own electoral prospects in the seat of New England.
Mr Assistant Speaker, many of the staff were unable or unwilling to move to Armidale. They ended up staying in Canberra anyway. The costs of the move for the APVMA also blew out and the performance of the agency was reported to have suffered extreme drops due to staff and morale issues. This is the government that Ms Lee is attempting to prop up with her motion today.
Not only have the coalition government been cutting the APS and moving those employees that they can away from Canberra but also they have been failing to bargain in good faith with employees and their union representatives and have even imposed an arbitrary cap on salary increases. Federal public servants have endured nearly a decade of real wage cuts under this disrespectful government.
I have direct personal experience of this campaign against the rights and pay of federal public servants. I was one of them in 2014 when my agency was bargaining for the next enterprise agreement. It was very clear then and it remains very clear now that investing in the public service and building capability and respecting the role of public servants to provide frank and fearless advice is not a priority for the federal coalition government.
As members will be able to see in the amendment to Ms Lee’s motion that I have moved today, which has been circulated, my amendment corrects Ms Lee’s assertions and notes some of the more positive policies that Senator Gallagher and the Australian Labor Party have put forward at this current federal election. They are good, fair policies which will not only benefit individual current and potential public servants and the public service as a whole but also benefit the ACT economy.
The original motion was nothing more than a politicking on behalf of Zed Seselja, who is clearly panicking about losing his seat. The Canberra Liberals do not actually care about the welfare or job security of Canberra’s thousands of public service workers and have demonstrated that through this cheap attempt at point scoring. My amendment to Ms Lee’s motion brings the motion into reality, and I commend the amendment to the Assembly.
MR BRADDOCK (Yerrabi) (4.05): I would like to begin by acknowledging the value of the Australian public service, the jobs that it has and the value that it brings to the Canberra economy and community. Like many Canberrans, I have spent decades of my life working in the public service. As such, I understand the importance of these jobs not just to Canberrans’ prosperity but to their wellbeing. I am bemused that we have seen in the past week a Liberal senator campaigning on local