Senate debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Statements by Senators

Australian Public Service: Morrison Government

1:36 pm

Photo of Carol BrownCarol Brown (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

On 4 August I placed on notice questions to Minister Reynolds concerning the government's claim that they would be employing an additional 200 Centrelink staff in Tasmania. This morning I received a partial response. As it turns out—and, sadly, unsurprisingly—the Morrison Liberal government will not be recruiting a further 200 Australian public service staff to work for Centrelink in Tasmania. Instead, the minister has confirmed in writing that:

In this instance staff were engaged through Hays Recruitment.

There's no explanation as to why. The minister simply said:

The Agency enters into contracts with labour hire providers through competitive procurement processes, and in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules.

Asked what the pay and conditions will be for these labour hire employees and how that compares to the pay and conditions of Services Australia employees, the minister said:

The engagement terms of individual staff is a matter for the labour hire providers and their staff in accordance with relevant Australian laws.

We all know what is going on here. This is part of the further hollowing out and outsourcing of the Australian Public Service.

Only this year, the government had signalled their intention to reverse course when it came to outsourcing in the public sector by lifting the APS cap. Yet here we are, only a few months after that budget announcement, and we find out that desperately needed additional Centrelink employees will be put on insecure labour-hire contracts with wages and conditions that we know will not be comparable with the wages and conditions of the APS staff they will be sharing desks with. The government claim that labour hire is used primarily for short-term work or specialised roles. But we know this simply isn't true. If they were serious about supporting Australian regions with properly resourced public services, they would reverse course and ensure these 200 positions were recruited— (Time expired)