Page 1123 - Week 04 - Tuesday, 3 May 2022

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up wages across multiple sectors; limiting outsourcing to labour hire firms and the big four; allowing public servants to participate in public debate and run for election, so as to be part of our active democracy; protecting public service whistleblowers; requiring public sector agencies to address their gender pay gap; and championing diverse and inclusive employment through targeted APS workforce strategies. This will mean more people in the public sector to help meet the education, housing, health, social security, environmental protection and infrastructure needs of our country.

This initiative complements policies to increase funding in public science, health and research organisations, invest in public energy, manufacturing and housing and establish a greener Australia. After restoring staffing levels, the Greens will then increase the size of the public service at the same rate as the population grows. Australia needs its public service to always be ready to deliver essential services to the community and to help drive the transition to a clean economy with a sustainable future. In order to build an effective and responsive public service with the skills and capabilities to meet the Australian people’s needs, we need to return to insourcing and bring an end to the incessant outsourcing that has plagued the APS. For these reasons I support Ms Orr’s amendment to Ms Lee’s motion.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (4.11): Ms Lee’s motion, through Mr Hanson, shows the opposition’s serious lack of understanding. It always has had this lack of understanding when it comes to the Australian public service. The APS is integral to the nation and to our city. It literally shapes our future. I am a proud former federal public servant. Indeed, it is the reason that I moved to this city. I know that several of my Labor colleagues are proud former federal public servants too. I can attest to the professionalism, the diligence, the hard work and the care of that workforce.

I also want to recognise that there can be a role for consultants and consulting firms. This might be where the expertise does not exist, where extra support might be needed, or for surge capacity perhaps. There can be legitimate reasons. Consulting firms are employers and can support jobs growth. But we need to be crystal clear about what has been happening here over the past decade and what the Liberals are seeking to perpetuate.

The federal government has an ideological obsession with a culture of cuts to the APS. Jobs have been cut but the work has not stopped. Work has still needed to be done, but instead it has been outsourced to private corporations, hollowing out the expertise of our public service. This is done at a significant cost—taxpayer cost, the cost to efficiency, the cost to long-term governance and the cost to policy know-how. And, together with a decade of real wage cuts and arbitrary caps on wage increases, it has come at the cost of impacting the economic security of our public servants.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the APS and the Canberra economy which the opposition never seem to get. I do not know if it is wilful or if they just really do not get it. Either way, they should try a bit harder. Withdrawing investment in the APS, hollowing out the expertise of the APS, undermining our workforces, attacking

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