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Federal Labor and ACT Liberal speak out for Treasury mums in danger of axing

Date

Primrose Riordan

Federal shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh and ACT Liberal shadow minister for women Giulia Jones have expressed concern over the move to include women on maternity leave in "unprecedented" involuntary redundancies at the Treasury Department.

Dr Leigh urged the department to ditch the plan, saying the involuntary round was evidence of the Abbott government "breaking an election promise".

In October 2012 Tony Abbott said that “I really want to stress that we are not talking about forced redundancies, we are talking about not replacing everyone who leaves, that’s all” in reference to the public service.

 Ms Jones said: “it is disappointing to hear that women on maternity leave could be forced to reapply for their jobs at Treasury."

She said the move was concerning "given recent research which shows a huge proportion of pregnant women are discriminated against in the workplace", referring to an Australian Human Rights Commission report released on July 25.

Dr Leigh said in a statement he was particularly concerned by the inclusion of women on maternity leave and new graduates in the round.

Dr Leigh said it was "atrocious that new mums on maternity leave should face the stress and uncertainty of having to reapply for their jobs at a time when they should be free to focus on their families and their own wellbeing".

Dr Leigh was on secondment from the ANU to the Treasury Department for a period in 2008 and 2009.

"This is not an issue I'm involved in because my mates are hurting; I'm involved in it because it damages Australia," Dr Leigh said.

He said he feared that the government's commitment to cutting the public service was a barrier to keeping talent.

"It is appalling that any highly skilled Treasury employee would be forced out of their job because of the Abbott government’s ideological commitment to slashing the size of the public service," Dr Leigh said.

Dr Leigh also voiced concerns that the inclusion of mothers on maternity leave might not be legal, saying "the Abbott government must comply with the law" and "guarantee that no Treasury worker who is currently on maternity leave will be forced into involuntary redundancy through this process".

The federal government's May budget flagged widespread cuts across the public service.

19 comments

  • What? So just because you're pregnant or you've just had a kid, your job should be safe, where as those who aren't on maternity leave should be considered for redundancies? How ridiculous. Having a kid doesn't make you immune from the realities of the life in the federal public sector at the moment - whether we like it or not. Look, I don't want anybody to involuntarily lose their jobs, but saying that someone shouldn't lose their job because of their family situation is not fair to everybody else.

    Commenter
    The Boss
    Location
    The Berra
    Date and time
    August 01, 2014, 9:10AM
    • The Boss, your comments reveal your underlying sexist views. It's been long known that women on maternity leave become easy targets by employers for redundancies under the guise of "restructuring". Young males (20-30's) are always in the safest position during such restructurings which is extremely unfair, wouldn't you agree?

      Commenter
      cat
      Date and time
      August 01, 2014, 10:15AM
    • Cat, I you are the sexist one in this conversation. Ability to do the job is what matters, nothing else.

      Commenter
      Steve
      Date and time
      August 01, 2014, 6:05PM
    • Sorry Cat, you are the only one espousing discrimination in this thread. Those on leave are not being specially targeted so how could this be sexiest? Should those on rec and long service be excluded as well? Could lead to a rush for leave applications..... or would Stu's suggestion below be acceptable to you? Way too precious

      Commenter
      Keyman
      Location
      not canberra
      Date and time
      August 02, 2014, 8:40AM
    • Agree absolutely 'the boss'. This ridiculous nonsense about maternity leave is just insane.

      Why should women on maternity get special treatment? Say there are 3 women up for redundancy. One is 6 months pregnant. One is on maternity leave. One has returned to work having finished maternity leave.

      Why is the woman on maternity leave special? Why is her situation so much more stressful than either of the other two?

      Any involuntary redundancy process by definition is unfair on someone - someone who is probably perfectly good at their job will lose it. If being on maternity leave should be taken into account, what else should be? Mental illness? Disability? Large mortgage? Just booked an expensive overseas holiday?

      If the department was doing some sort of 'targeted' redundancy process, where they took each person's personal circumstances into account and then fired the people they thought most able to cope, then maternity leave might be relevant.

      They aren't though. Its just a case of who misses out on a chair when the music stops. And frankly, its entirely probable someone who needs a job just as much as someone on maternity leave is going to miss out.

      Honestly. Faux outrage about nothing. Grow up.

      Commenter
      Total insanity
      Date and time
      August 03, 2014, 8:31PM
  • Give them an overly generous PPL with one hand and take away their jobs with the other. Perfect Liberal Party logic.

    Commenter
    ilk
    Date and time
    August 01, 2014, 9:20AM
    • Why are they seeking to protect only one group. So if you are having a baby or just had one you get protected. But if you have 3, 5 or 7 already, tuff!! How is that reasonable?

      Commenter
      Irene
      Date and time
      August 01, 2014, 9:55AM
      • Yeah.

        Agree with the first comment.

        Commenter
        Amelia
        Date and time
        August 01, 2014, 10:27AM
        • So just to make it completely fair perhaps they should just target Caucasian, heterosexual, car driving, middle aged males.....

          Commenter
          Stu
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          August 01, 2014, 10:40AM
          • LOL - could not have put it better myself.

            Commenter
            Keyman
            Location
            not canberra
            Date and time
            August 02, 2014, 8:33AM

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