Page 1276 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017

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Workers did not sign up to have their jobs moved interstate, and the ultimatum of protecting their families or looking for work again has had a detrimental effect on the agency. In the words of one APVMA employee:

Staff morale is very low. People can’t believe that this decision has been made, and for no good reason. The APVMA is experiencing huge staff losses and this impacts our workload and our feelings of being able to accomplish what we need to do. Applicants are not happy and this impacts on our own feelings of wellbeing and happiness in the workplace.

The Murray Darling Basin Authority—one of the several agencies already relocated—has watched other agencies disperse, and workers are dreading their turn. One worker testified:

My husband and I are each responsible for an elderly parent. While both are in aged care facilities, both have physical and mental ailments and we assist them on a regular basis. I have other siblings, but 2 of these live interstate and the other has significant health issues. It seems unlikely that such a move would be feasible for me at this stage and I would need to seek alternative employment within the APS or with another employer in Canberra or close by.

Another said:

I am very exasperated at us still not knowing our future – it has been six months of real uncertainty. We don’t know our ‘future direction’, can’t progress a practical work plan, and even don’t know if we will have a job.

When employees face unstable work condition, the uncertainty flows on to other aspects of their lives.

Taking into consideration the fact that a reported 75 per cent of APVMA employees were reluctant to relocate, why is the Turnbull government still going ahead with this move that is against the will of a significant majority of APVMA staff and of little professional or economic benefit?

It is hypocritical for the coalition government to boast of the economic benefits of moving APS to regional Australia given their history of slashing public sector jobs in these communities. Economic gain from the public service should be delivered to regional Australia through the creation and restoration of public sector jobs in agencies such as the CSIRO, ATO and the Department of Human Services, as these agencies have the capacity to operate out of cities right across Australia.

Moving existing jobs and uprooting Canberra families as a result of forced relocation is not a viable solution to create economic gain. The APVMA staff are all local Canberrans and they need their local representatives to stand up for them. I note the Chief Minister wrote to the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee inquiry into the operation, effectiveness, and consequences of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Location of Corporate Commonwealth Entities) Order 2016. This formally placed the ACT government’s opposition to the

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