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Abbott takes aim at ACT PS jobs

Canberra:??Opposition Leader Tony Abbott arrives to speak to the media at a morning doorstop at Parliament House today, Budget day, Tuesday 8 May 2012.??Photo by Penny Bradfield.   abbott2.jpg

Canberra:??Opposition Leader Tony Abbott arrives to speak to the media at a morning doorstop at Parliament House today, Budget day, Tuesday 8 May 2012.??Photo by Penny Bradfield. abbott2.jpg Photo: Penny Bradfield

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says as many federal public service jobs as reasonably possible should be located outside the ACT.

He made the comment on Monday as economists warned of a possible 4 per cent cut in the ACT's employment rate if the Coalition won the election.

During an interview on Geelong radio, Mr Abbott was asked about a bid for the national disability insurance scheme to be based in the Victorian regional city and whether other government agencies could also be located there.

Mr Abbott said it would be up the board of DisabilityCare Australia to decide where the organisation should have its headquarters but some government agencies should be located away from Canberra.

''Big-spending government is not going to guarantee our prosperity; what we need are prosperous private businesses,'' Mr Abbott told BayFM.

''But to the extent that we need public servants - and we certainly need some of them - why not try to locate as many of them as we can reasonably locate outside of Canberra?

''So I'm all in favour of trying to ensure that at least some government agencies aren't in the national capital because I think it's important - particularly when they are service delivery agencies - for them to be amongst the people they are seeking to help.''

ACT Labor politicians lashed out at Mr Abbott's comments.

Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann accused the Opposition Leader of treating the public service and the national capital with disdain.

''Remember 1996 when house prices fell, we lost 15,000 public servants - and I was one of them - local shops shut down, businesses and tradies went under and people left Canberra. And that's the future vision that the Coalition has for Canberra,'' Ms Brodtmann said.

Fraser MP Andrew Leigh said Mr Abbott's comments were ''what you would expect to hear from a fringe separatist figure rather than a would-be prime minister and certainly from somebody who was minister for health when the Department of Health employed about the same number of people as it does now''.

A report by ANZ Research warned the ACT could be ''heavily negatively affected'' by public service cuts under a Coalition government.

''The Liberal-Nationals plan to cut around 20,000 jobs from the public service, a large proportion of which are likely to occur in Canberra as around 40 per cent of the workforce is either directly involved in public administration or the services that consult to it,'' the report said.

''We estimate there could be a direct 4 per cent cut to Canberra's workforce, which would have flow-on effects to other sectors in the ACT and nationally.''

The opposition has previously promised to cut about 12,000 public service jobs, doing so through natural attrition.

In February, Mr Abbott said the Commonwealth public sector had grown by more than 20,000 positions over five years without a commensurate increase in service delivery or efficiency.

The ANZ Research report said the possibility of a change of government was already hitting the territory's economy, with the housing market slowing and business and households acting cautiously.

83 comments

  • Good, the public service in Canberra is too bloated. The Government could make millions of dollars in savings if there is a 4% cut. Times are tough, and I'm sick of my wallet being the victim of the current Labor governments gross misuse of the budget funds. It's time someone else took a cut for a change.

    Commenter
    Adzz
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Date and time
    May 07, 2013, 7:29AM
    • What? Do you think it wouldn't effect you if you're not a public servant? The knock-on effects would be devastating for house prices and employment (public and private sector) would rise, local services would suffer. If you gave this two minutes worth of thought you'd see that this would turn Canberra into a ghost town. That will effect everyone - not just public servants.

      The idea of the public service being bloated is a popular myth that's been nurtured and perpetuated over decades by right-wing politicians and a compliant press. It's sad that many one-eyed Liberal voters fall so easily for Abbott's continual negative style. What makes you think he'll stop being so adversarial if he becomes PM? He'll just keep attacking because that's all he knows.

      It's sad to see Canberrans so enthusiastically cheering the prospect of their own town being torn apart all for the sake of a cheap electioneering trick designed to stir the fear and negativity of some voters. It's like turkey's voting for Christmas.

      Commenter
      yumq
      Location
      Reid
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 8:47AM
    • I have to agree with yumq. (maybe I should lay down)

      Commenter
      WotTha?????
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:18AM
    • WotTha??? Good grief, I'm overcome. There's hope yet.

      Although, I should point out that I said "employment ... would rise" rather than "unemployment..." in the second line of my response. Derr.

      Commenter
      yumq
      Location
      Reid
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:30AM
    • People in Canberra don't seem to grasp the concept that the money to employ everyone there comes from the rest of the country. It has the lowest unemployment and the highest average wage, but it produces next to nothing in export revenue. It's a very priviledged place and it's paid for by the rest of us. People in Canberra should consider themselves lucky to have their job and live in a place with great infrastructure compare to the rest of Australia. Try living in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and commuting to work. You have it easy in Canberra!!!!

      Commenter
      Coolum Kid
      Location
      Sunshine Coast
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 9:31AM
    • Coolum Kid, ask the people of Bateman's Bay and the South Coast in general if they want Canberra dismantled. Canberra is a purpose built town, fulfilling the purpose it was created for.

      Commenter
      WotTha?????
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 10:06AM
    • A Liberal troll no doubt. Therefore, your comment is ignorant and worthless unless you provide some meaningful data to go with it.

      Commenter
      speak2us
      Location
      canberra
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 11:17AM
    • WotTha, So what your saying is that Canberra is subsidised by the rest of Australia and by extension Bateman's Bay and the South Coast. But aren't they part of NSW and by extension NSW is just getting some of the money back that it sends to Canberra. Also, read what I original said. Canberra is a lucky place with it's high wages and excellent infrastructure paid for by the rest of Australia. On the Sunshine Coast 1 out of every 2 working age people have to find employment outside of the coast area. You don't see them whinging about it and asking for preferential treatment. Mate, the Federal government won't even allocate money so that the airport can be upgraded because it's owned by the council, which keeps the money in the area. Try looking passed Canberra as the centre of Australian!!! There's more to it than Canberra!!!

      Commenter
      Coolum Kid
      Location
      Sunshine Coast
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 11:35AM
    • No Coolum Kid, I'm saying the money around Canberra, gets spent all around the region- Canberra is not partitioned- after federation we picked a spot and built a capital city, 100 years later cry babies like you want to kick and scream about public servants and Canberra not exporting anything blah blah blah. It makes no sense. Average wages are higher here because the highest paid public servants in the country are here, doesn't mean we are all rich and shielded from reality. Let's face it mate the Sunshine coast is hardly the economic powerhouse of Australia so I am not sure what your point is there. One more thing, who says we don't export anything, there is a lot of hot air and bare faced lies exported from Canberra but we get no thanks.

      Commenter
      WotTha?????
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 12:09PM
    • Then watch the behind the scene costs go through the roof, such as site leasing, data centres!

      Commenter
      yoda
      Date and time
      May 07, 2013, 1:00PM

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