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Call for Libs to debate public service cuts

Greens candidate Simon Sheikh at the Press club, Canberra.

Greens candidate Simon Sheikh at the Press club, Canberra. Photo: Melissa Adams

GREENS ACT Senate candidate Simon Sheikh has called on his Liberal counterpart to release a plan to support Canberra through the Coalition's proposed public service job cuts.

And he challenged Zed Seselja to debate him on the issue prior to the election.

Mr Sheikh wrote to Mr Seselja on Saturday, after think tank the Australia Institute predicted there would be 5400 public service job cuts in the Canberra region under a Coalition government, a claim backed by the senator Mr Seselja recently ousted, Gary Humphries.

Mr Sheikh, the former head of campaign organisation GetUp!, said cuts to public service jobs in Canberra would damage the entire ACT economy, including small businesses and the housing sector.

He said if the Liberal Party won the federal election, the Greens could hold the balance of power in the Senate.

''What will be decided here in the ACT is whether or not Tony Abbott, if he is successful at the election, will get total control of both houses of Parliament,'' he said. ''The Greens can do more to protect Canberrans from job cuts than Zed Seselja can and that's because in the Senate we'll be negotiating from a position of strength.''

Mr Seselja refused to comment on Mr Sheikh's letter or on the request for a debate from the ''minor party''.

Mr Sheikh asked Mr Seselja to produce a plan to cushion the impact to the ACT economy of job losses within the public service.

''In other industries when there are significant job cuts governments often come in with structural adjustment packages, there are many things the Liberals could be promising to help Canberra through a difficult time,'' he said.

Mr Sheikh added that he was also committed to diversifying Canberra's economy.

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