Chris Johnson August 29, 2012
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has warned Canberra's public servants that many will lose their jobs and those left will have their advice ignored if the Coalition wins federal government.
In a scathing attack on opposition leader Tony Abbott, Ms Gillard has foreshadowed massive cuts to the Australian Public Service in the first term of a Coalition government, similar to those under John Howard in 1996 which plunged the ACT into recession.
She admitted there was more workplace bargaining to do between Labor and the public service, and she did not back away from her government's budget aim to reduce the sector by 4200 over the financial year.
But she used recent comments by Mr Abbott and some of his frontbench, as well as the decisions of Liberal premiers, to make her point that no public servant would be well-regarded by the Coalition.
Addressing the Community and Public Sector Union's national conference in Sydney last night, Ms Gillard said what Liberal premiers are doing in slashing their state public sector workforces would be repeated at a federal level by Mr Abbott. ''That's how the Liberals roll,'' she said.
''Now, I would come here to warn you that Tony Abbott will do to the APS what the state Liberals are doing to their public services - because first term conservative governments are like that.
''But amazingly, it's actually worse than that. Last week the Coalition announced plans to gift core federal responsibilities to the Liberal states.
''They won't just copy the premiers - they'll actually hand you over to the premiers.''
Last week shadow finance minister Andrew Robb flagged the opposition's intention to devolve policy work to the states and territories in order to reduce the federal payroll.
Ms Gillard made particular mention of public sector workers servicing the territory, as well as those in many other departments and agencies. She noted that Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, in slashing his state bureaucracy, said it was his job to ''get the poopa scoopa out every day of the week''.
Such sentiment, Ms Gillard said, was populist politics that rejected expertise and independent advice.
''You don't deserve it - the country can't afford it,'' she said.
In response to the speech, ACT Liberal senator Gary Humphries said last night that the public service should be concerned about Labor's intentions to reduce numbers.
''Labor has engaged in their own round of funding cuts,'' he said.
''The scorn Julia Gillard pours out at the Coalition is only a thin disguise of her broken promise not to cut public sector jobs.''
Ms Gillard's pitch to Canberra voters came only a few hours after the man she ousted from The Lodge, Kevin Rudd, said Mr Abbott was ''extremely beatable'' at the next federal election.
The former Labor prime minister described Mr Abbott as ''the most extreme right-wing leader'' in Liberal Party history and said he did not have the temperament required for the highest office in the land. ''I think the Australian people are increasingly seeing through how thin his political program is,'' he said in Sydney.
Mr Newman is set to hand down a tough budget on September 11 which could add another 10,000 job cuts to the existing 4500 made this year.
Other state premiers are also rolling out cuts.
Mr Abbott said the state premiers had inherited a ''terrible mess'' from previous Labor governments.
Mr Abbott said the situation for an incoming federal coalition government would be ''different''.
''But the point I have been making for years now is that there are 20,000 more federal public servants … today then there were when the former coalition government left office, and I think we can run a slimmer and more effective government in Canberra too.''