Page 1768 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 8 May 2013
role and significance of Canberra in the life of our nation. We support the commonwealth government maintaining the number of public service jobs in Canberra.
I think that we all know the importance of the federal public service to the economic and social fabric of the city. And as much as we might all talk about the need to diversify the Canberra economy and our various views on that, the bottom line is that this is still a town that relies heavily on the fortunes of the commonwealth public service for its economic prosperity.
My part (2)(c), “keeping Canberra as the central location of Commonwealth Government departments and agencies”, again is a principle that I believe all of us in the ACT Assembly would support, one that acknowledges the strategic values of having government in a single place, with those obvious exceptions where there is a geographically specific reason to put an agency outside the national capital. So I think it is a way forward in this debate.
I of course find myself in that position that is going to happen so often over the remaining 3½ years of this term where I have to endeavour to find some way between the two clashing arguments across the chamber. So I will be moving my amendments once we have dealt with Mr Hanson’s as a way of perhaps focusing on the principles of the matter and allowing the disputed facts to continue to be debated through the media and at other times, as I am sure they will be.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (5.17): I rise today to congratulate Dr Bourke on his motion. I support the motion and will not be supporting Mr Hanson’s amendment. I rise as a direct witness of the slash and burn tactics employed by the Howard Liberal government in 1996-97. I saw the effects of the savage cuts by the Howard government. I worked for the APS at the time and I saw firsthand the terrible impact of these cuts. I saw the departure lounge for the Department of Administrative Services set up at the Government Printing Office. Later I witnessed what was known as death by PowerPoint at defence, where hundreds of public servants were taken into the new conference room at Building R1 where a PowerPoint was displayed showing around 280 job positions on the first slide and on the second slide about 110. If your job number was not on the second slide, you were no longer employed. Then there were the COMCAR interviews, where you were invited in as one of about 110 permanent COMCAR drivers. You were sat down, you were read three lines from a script, and then you were asked to leave without a job, but you were provided with a cab fare home.
I quote my federal parliamentary colleagues Senator Lundy, Dr Leigh and Ms Brodtmann, who, in a joint press release, stated that in 1996-97 federal ongoing staffing levels decreased by 8.1 per cent or approximately 3,000 persons in the ACT. And that was just the beginning. The Canberra Times on 3 April this year showed that between 1996 and 2000 the Howard Liberal government cut about 32,000 jobs from the APS. The impact of 20,000 immediate job cuts flagged by Tony Abbott would be far greater, and this is just the beginning.