The main public service union has angrily attacked Treasurer Scott Morrison’s first Budget, warning that $1.9 billion in cuts meted out through the extension of the reviled ‘Efficiency Dividend’ will eliminate 3000 and 4500 more public sector jobs on top of the 18,000 it says have already gone.
The Community and Public Sector Union moved swiftly to condemn the latest round of savings measures, saying that the “across-the-board funding cut will inevitably lead to thousands more workers losing their jobs.”
“This Budget means more public sector jobs are on the chopping block, and that ordinary Australians should prepare for the public services they rely on to go further backwards,” CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said.
While the extension of the efficiency dividend was not entirely unexpected within the wider public service, the scale of the $1.9 billion savings measure is certain to fuel fears that agencies unable to find savings elsewhere will resort to redundancies to produce a more immediate bottom line effect.
Welfare and social services have been at the forefront of the CPSU’s dire warnings, with the union saying customer service and responsiveness will suffer even further.
A key target is the Budget revelation that the Department of Human Services will lose another 800 positions on top of the efficiency dividend alongside savings of $80 million.
“There’s nothing innovative about 22 million calls to Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support going unanswered last year, with more public service cuts to come,” Ms Flood said.
The union has also accused the Turnbull government of mounting a “disguised” push to return to widespread public sector outsourcing and the privatisation government services by using ‘Scoping Studies’ on top of the $2.7 billion saved through ‘Functional and Efficiency Reviews’.
“Missing in action is any detail on what services they plan to sell off,” Ms Flood said.
One of the biggest items that appears to have been parked until after the election are previous plans to get private industry to undertake around $30 billion in Medicare payments and claims processing.
The proposed move, what was put to market for expressions of interest, had been a showpiece efficiency measure following the Abbott government’s National Commission of Audit but has since largely failed to materialise amid heavy criticism of customer service levels at welfare agencies like Centrelink.
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