House debates

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Constituency Statements

Townsville: Employment

10:18 am

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Townsville has always had a strong public sector presence. We are the city that is proud to have the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and CSIRO. Our inner CBD would flourish because of the Australian Taxation Office workers, Department of Veterans' Affairs staff and Defence. But now, under the architect of the cuts, former Treasurer and now Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Townsville's public sector and economy are under attack.

As a nation we should have the best and brightest working in our departments. We should be proud to have experts in their areas working for our government, providing world-leading research and services and ensuring that, as a nation, we are always progressive on the issues affecting our people and country. We should not be selling these skills off to the Morrison government's private sector, labour hire mates. It is an absolute disgrace that labour hire has flourished under the LNP government. They should hang their heads in shame. The fact that they are proud to outsource and privatise, and they're proud to cut jobs in regional Queensland, is a shame.

In Townsville the LNP government have cut 149 jobs from the ATO. The relocation of the Royal Australian Air Force's 38 Squadron King Air Fleet from Townsville to East Sale, Victoria, lost 40 aviation jobs. There were 50 fewer Defence staff in June 2017 than there were in December 2012; 19 jobs have gone from CSIRO; 10 jobs have been lost from the Townsville APS Defence support staff. Cuts of 50 per cent have seen 30 jobs lost in regional Queensland Customs staffing from Gladstone to Thursday Island, including Townsville. Five jobs were lost at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. I do not want to put our public sector into private hands. This is an absolute disgrace, and the Morrison government should hang its head in shame. Liberals seem to be hell-bent on destroying our public sector, and it is only Labor that will support our public sector.

A Labor government will abolish the Liberals' arbitrary average staffing level cap and strengthen capacity and capability within the Australian public sector. The ASL cap has become counterproductive, leading to a hollowing out of the public services and sparking a blowout in spending on contractors and consultants. By abolishing the cap, agencies will be allowed to set their staffing levels based on operational requirements. Agencies' overall funding levels will remain capped, meaning there will be no impact on the budget. The Prime Minister's own department has described the ASL cap as 'a blunt instrument' and said:

Through removing ASL caps, agencies may have greater flexibility to recruit specialist staff at a reduced cost.

Australians expect and deserve quality services and value for money, and our plan will deliver both. This is a great start by Labor, but we need to do more. We need more DHS jobs and we need ATO jobs.