Page 1585 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 10 May 2017
placed to deliver the services and outcomes asked of it by the federal government, with the largest share of the public service located together with the federal parliament. The Australian Public Service has long been recognised as one of the most effective services internationally, including by measures produced by the World Bank, and I think the collocation of the workforce in Canberra has a lot to do with that.
I am concerned by the apparent moves to pilfer such public service jobs by the current federal government to artificially boost employment outside of the territory. However, I do think the federal government could be overlooking an opportunity to generate new jobs in regional areas without the need to dismantle Canberra’s public service workforce.
Recently I had the great pleasure to inspect the Sapphire Wind Farm. The wind farm, located between the towns of Glen Innes and Inverell in regional New South Wales, is set to be New South Wales’s largest wind farm upon completion. The wind farm was a successful project under the ACT’s second wind auction, with approximately half of the wind farm’s output contributing towards achieving the 100 per cent renewable energy target that we have in the ACT.
The reason I mention the wind farm is that the project is expected to deliver a significant number of new jobs, right in the heart of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s New England electorate. The project has been estimated to generate up to $10 million in new economic activity for the local area and will create up to 200 new jobs during the construction phase. This is roughly double the number of jobs anticipated to be uplifted out of Canberra and transplanted into Armidale through the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, also coincidently located in Mr Joyce’s New England electorate.
Having been up there and seen the absolute hive of activity—bearing in mind this is only one wind farm and another wind farm literally across the other side of the road is also generating significant economic activity—it is clear that a significant number of the local community welcome these initiatives. Of course, there are some who do not, but they recognise the skills that are being brought to the area and the job opportunities in the short term and also the lasting economic impact these wind farms have.
I took the opportunity while I was there to have lunch with some of the farmers involved in the project. They were certainly very positive about the ongoing economic impact. Those able to have turbines located on their properties receive an ongoing source of income which, of course, being for locals, will flow through to the local economy. A range of ancillary projects are being built in the community as part of the arrival of the wind farms and a range of other economic developments. These create real and extra jobs, new jobs, rather than pilfering them from Canberra.
In terms of what we have seen in the way this decision has been taken—and there is a range of comments you can make about it—I was particularly struck by a recent media report on the ABC about public servants who have been forced to work from a McDonalds after moving to Armidale. This probably underlines the lack of strategy. Because they did not actually have anywhere to work, they were required to go there