Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 10 May 2018) . . Page.. 1821 ..
his electorate does not mean the government should inflict pain and employment insecurity on a whole government agency. I understand Tuesday’s budget put the cost at $25 million for this bit of pork-barrelling.
Any efforts towards decentralisation should be driven by the needs and wants of the government agency in particular and, of course, their workers, and not just a self-serving political objective.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (4.14): You may want to consider bunkering down—indeed, we all might—because Canberra is under attack. We are taking fire from those on the hill who continue to up the ante by pursuing a pointless and foolish bid to destabilise the ACT’s role as the centre of the federal public service. I do not need to remind this Assembly of the ill-conceived and farcical policy of decentralisation that the federal government announced just over a year ago. We knew then that this policy offended cost-benefit analyses and principles of good governance and management. We knew the policy would cause uncertainty in our community. And we knew we were being treated as nothing more than pawns, with the commonwealth government discounting the human cost of its political games.
The policy’s architects are now all but out of the picture, with the former Nationals deputy leader found ineligible to even sit in Parliament, and now Barnaby has been bounced to the backbenches. There was hope that the federal government would see sense and take the opportunity presented by their colleague’s demise to abandon the futile policy of decentralisation, but no. We continue to be plagued by the senselessness of this policy.
I appreciate the Canberra Liberals’ opposition to decentralisation, too. However, for all that Miss Burch might speak about how much she and her colleagues, including Zed—also known as “Where’s Zed?”—have lobbied their federal colleagues—
MADAM SPEAKER: Ms Cheyne, refer to senators by their appropriate name.
MS CHEYNE: Senator Seselja. Regrettably, for us they have not been particularly effective or their efforts are, frankly, overstated. And we can take what we will from that.
In Tuesday’s budget the federal government announced a further six agencies will be moving out of Canberra, including one agency to Parramatta in Sydney. That is insulting—moving a federal agency out of Canberra so those jobs can be taken to the biggest city in Australia. It smacks of hypocrisy and, quite frankly, shows all of their rhetoric about creating regional jobs for what it is—misleading obfuscation to conceal their true motives in undermining the role of Canberra as the home of the federal public service.
We are not out of the woods yet. Yes, maybe it is just a handful of agencies now, but the federal government has also said that there will be further decentralisation announcements in coming months. When will they stop looking at the small, easy-to-pick agencies and start appropriating the bigger ones? Time will tell. They are feeding the uncertainty for Canberrans.