ACT News

Federal government public service job cuts 'hurting ACT'

ACT positions showed the steepest downturn recorded in any state or territory, with almost one in 11 Canberra jobs being lost in the last financial year.

As federal government public service job cuts reached a rate of almost one in 11 Canberra positions last financial year, the ACT government's public service continued a five year trend of growth. 

The ACT public service had a headcount of 20,551 employees in June 2014, up more than 2600 from June 2010 levels. 

Hard times: ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says the Abbott Government's cuts are hurting Canberra families and the ...
Hard times: ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher says the Abbott Government's cuts are hurting Canberra families and the city's economy. "No other city in Australia would be expected to deal with job cuts of this magnitude on its own.'' Photo: Louie Douvis

Last week, The Canberra Times reported Australian Bureau of Statistics employment data showed the Commonwealth workforce shrank by 1.7 per cent during 2013-14.

The losses,  which include positions in the bureaucracy, other government agencies and the military, were offset by growth in state or territory governments or councils in most parts of the country.

The figures showed 7200 federal jobs losses in the ACT over the year as well as 300 territory employees: a total of 7 per cent of the public sector workforce.

ACT positions showed the steepest downturn recorded in any state or territory since the ABS began providing government employment data in 2014.

A spokesman for ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said the territory's public service had in fact seen a continual increase since 2010 levels.

Different definitions of public sector jobs caused the discrepancy. ACT public service jobs are reported each year the ACT State of the Service Report. 

In June 2011 there were 18,599 ACT public service positions, growing to 19,331 in 2012 and 20,017 in 2013. 

Ms Gallagher said the Abbott Government's cuts were hurting Canberra families and the city's economy.

"It's not just loyal professionals in the public service who are paying the price, it's the shopkeepers, builders, mechanics and cafe owners who rely on their custom," Ms Gallagher said.

"If the Liberals are the party of small business why do they keep sacking their customers?

"No other city in Australia would be expected to deal with job cuts of this magnitude on its own. We are on our own and the ACT government is doing all it can to keep the economy moving, but it's time for the Liberals to reconsider. The cuts have to stop." 

Ms Gallagher has regularly compared the size of the Canberra public sector footprint to BHP's employment in Newcastle or Victoria's car manufacturing communities. 

Last week she blamed Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the territory's 5.4 per cent unemployment rate in October, the highest in 13 years.

The ACT was the only state or territory to record a jump in the latest unemployment numbers released this month, reaching levels not seen since July 2001. 

The bureau also revised the trend figures for unemployment in the ACT in September, from the 4.6 per cent reported a month ago to 5.1 per cent.

In October, the ACT lost its status as the jurisdiction with the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The only other change came in the Northern Territory, where the jobless rate fell from 4.1 per cent to 4.0 per cent in trend terms.

Tasmania has the highest unemployment rate in Australia, at a seasonally adjusted 7.2 per cent, while New South Wales stayed steady at 5.8 per cent.

Victoria's unemployment rate also stood still at 6.8 per cent. 

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