By Paul Hemsley
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has announced a plan to improve the quality of the public sector that involves cutting 4000 staff.
This follows the controversial cut of about 14,000 public sector staff in the recent Queensland 2012-13 Budget, which resulted in protests from unions and special interest groups.
The South Australian government is under pressure to achieve $129.5 million in savings for the 2015-16 Budget.
As a result, the is investing $2 million to change the way the public sector operates and improve the quality of service delivery.
The government’s plan intends to make the public sector more risk averse and create a ‘more dynamic and better place to be employed’.
“Recent debate has been about the size of the public sector, when we need to be talking about the quality of the public sector,” Mr Weatherill said.
He said the state is in a constrained financial environment where savings must be made, but the community has “ever-increasing” demands for services.
“That equation won’t work unless we do things differently and the Public Sector Renewal Program is about making those changes across all of our public services,” Mr Weatherill said.
The Public Service Association of South Australia (PSASA) reacted favourably to the state government’s announcement to improve the quality of service delivery but didn’t acknowledge the government’s pledge to “[reduce] public sector numbers by 4000”.
PSASA chief industrial officer Peter Christopher said Mr Weatherill’s announcement was a “well thought out and reasoned approach to the role the public sector workers play in the community”.
“[It] is a welcome change from the ongoing mantra from some that cuts are the only option,” Mr Christopher said.
Mr Christopher said the announcement reflects the viewpoint that the way work is carried out is more important to service delivery than simply cutting jobs.
“Over the past 20 years the population of South Australia has increased by 200,000 people, yet the public sector has been reduced by 20,000 over the same time frame,” he said.
According to the South Australian government, demonstration projects in four agencies will be launched in November and every agency will be involved in the program by the end of next year.
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