Page 1288 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 29 March 2017
city in the world in 2014 was a no-brainer. The APS brings people to Canberra, but it is the city that makes them stay.
Madam Speaker, you would know that I speak from experience. I moved to Canberra for a graduate role in the Australian public service, working first at the Attorney-General’s Department and then at the department of finance. I quickly fell in love with our fine city. I committed to a career in Canberra, and that let me put down roots here. I created my home in the Belconnen town centre, invested in new friendships, and introduced two dogs into my life. For me, Canberra would not have been the same without the APS, and perhaps vice versa.
When the federal government relocates a public service department outside of the ACT, it puts staff in the awful position of having to choose between their jobs and their homes. These people are being treated as political pawns as their lives are thrown into disarray and uncertainty.
We only have to look at the reaction to Barnaby Joyce’s move to relocate the APVMA to Armidale, which you have heard about from my colleagues today but which I will reiterate. Since the announcement, one in five regulatory scientists has left the agency, citing the fact that they do not want to leave Canberra. They do not want to leave their home. Even the promise of a 15 per cent salary loading over three years was not enticing enough to uproot their families and move away from their friends, from their home and from their community. These scientists recognise what many up on that big hill do not: Canberra is a great place to live; it is a great place to work; and it is the natural home of the Australian public service.
The Australian public service is integral to Canberra’s identity. Failing to support a strong Australian public service in Canberra puts our economy at risk and carries a heavy personal cost for those affected. Canberra is an incredible city to live and work in, and it is time that the federal government recognised the potential of Canberra and got on board with the future of our city, rather than undermining our workforce at every turn.
MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (6.10): I rise today to support Ms Orr’s motion on the importance of the Australian public service and its significant place in Canberra’s history, character and economy. As a former hairdresser, a small business owner and worker within the Australian public service, I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion to the attention of the Assembly and gladly support the motion and welcome the opportunity to speak.
The public service has long had a special role in Canberra’s history. Since Menzies, Australian governments have respected Canberra as the nation’s capital and have played a role in boosting our population and facilitating our local economy through supporting a strong and dedicated public service.
In recent years, however, this practice has changed dramatically. No longer do we have a commonwealth government which recognises the invaluable work of Australia’s public servants. No longer do we have a commonwealth government which respects Canberra as the nation’s capital. Instead, what we have come to inherit