Page 1122 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 3 May 2022
government issues, whilst we see the Leader of the Opposition wanting to talk about federal government issues. Perhaps the two might like to arrange a job swap.
I wholeheartedly reject Ms Lee’s equation of the outsourced consulting contractor with the labour hire work of the APS. Whilst all involve a person working at a desk who goes home to their family and loved ones at the end of the day, they are very different things. The coalition’s habitual expansion of private industry into the purview of the APS has been damaging not only to the workers in the APS but also to the service delivery and outcomes of the APS.
In October of 2021 the Senate released its Second interim report: insecurity in publicly-funded jobs. This report explicitly linked the increase in contracting and consulting with worse outcomes for workers. Workers in these jobs have lower career progression, are subject to worse conditions and are more vulnerable to job loss. Not only are these arrangements bad for workers but they are bad for the government as well. To quote directly from the report:
While the agencies have highlighted that external and casual workers are cheaper and easier to hire and fire, labour hire companies and outsourced service providers have been allowed to pillage the public purse for excessive profit margins, meaning not only is the Australian public receiving a degraded quality of service, they are also paying more for it.
Who wins from these contracts and consultancies? It is not the workers. It is not the government agencies. It is the major private corporations and the politicians they back. In 2021 alone, the government spent $850 million on contracts with the big four of Deloitte, KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and EY, and well over $1 billion in contracts outsourcing what should have been public sector work. That money could have employed 12,000 APS staff. It does not go without note that the very same big four contractors which the coalition have been eager to award contracts to have become the largest sources of political donations in Australia, collectively donating more than $5.6 million over the past decade.
I wish to draw your attention to the recent decentralisation of public sector jobs and how Canberran workers and the Canberra economy have been particularly affected. The coalition’s ideological commitment to having more public servants in regional areas has, in effect, been a policy of moving public sector jobs to anywhere but Canberra. This policy unfairly targets public service agencies, Canberra and Canberrans. It is part of a political project on the part of the coalition, rather than thoughtful, evidence-based policy. It has been demonstrated that decentralisation projects have gutted agencies of precious knowledge and skills, dramatically slashing agency performance. It has also been criticised by experienced and leading bureaucrats. It impacts Canberra and its economy. It impacts Canberrans, creating job uncertainty, impacting career progression and skills development.
The Greens have set out a comprehensive policy to tackle the issue of consultancies and contracting, while strengthening the APS and the people who work within it. Our policy includes restoring the number of public service jobs to 2012 levels over a four-year period, which will lead to an increase in the APS to over 153,000 people; lifting public sector wages by four per cent per annum over the next four years to pull