ACT News


Explain job losses: Sheikh's challenge to victor

He does not care if it is Zed or Gary, but Greens ACT candidate for the Senate Simon Sheikh does want a public debate with the winner of Saturday's Liberal preselection battle.

And he wants the debate to be about how many public servants will lose their jobs in Canberra if the Coalition wins this year's federal election.

Mr Sheikh sent separate letters on Friday night to incumbent Liberal senator Gary Humphries and former ACT opposition leader Zed Seselja, who is challenging for top spot on the Liberal senate ticket.

In his letters, the high-profile Greens candidate challenged each contender, if they win the preselection, to debate him on public sector job cuts. "Your party's policy of radical public service cuts is on the minds of many of Canberra's families, and contradictory claims made by senior members of your party are only exacerbating the confusion and concern," he wrote.

Mr Sheikh said claims from the contenders, from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and from shadow treasurer Joe Hockey range from 4000 to 20,000 expected job losses under a Coalition government.

"The people of Canberra deserve to know the facts about the scale and nature of your party's job slashing plans," he wrote. "They deserve to be part of an honest and open discussion about the future of our local economy."

This week Mr Seselja said the proposed public sector job cuts would equate to about 4000 in the ACT. Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey have at different times switched between either 12,000 or 20,000 public servants losing their jobs nationally. Senator Humphries has stuck to the 12,000 figure while insisting it would be achieved through voluntary redundancies.

Mr Sheikh said whatever the figure, it meant bad news for the ACT and the possibility of a Canberra recession. "Cuts have consequences,'' he wrote.