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Liberals to swing PS axe, says Labor MP

Labor MP Andrew Leigh.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh. Photo: Elesa Lee

The Coalition has a ''hit-list'' of senior public servants marked for the sack if it wins government in the coming federal election, according to Canberra Labor MP Andrew Leigh.

The member for Fraser made his allegation in the wake of shadow treasurer Joe Hockey's latest attack on the Treasury Department and Mr Hockey's refusal to guarantee that Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson's job was safe under an Abbott government. Dr Leigh raised the spectre of 1996, the last time the Coalition came from opposition and when former prime minister John Howard sacked six department heads immediately after assuming power and appointed an outsider, Max Moore-Wilton, to run his department. On Friday Dr Leigh accused the Liberals of planning a similar purge if they win power in this year's election.

''The Liberals seem to have a hit-list of senior public servants,'' Dr Leigh said. ''Mr Parkinson has honourably served both sides of politics, and it's extremely disappointing to see that Mr Hockey isn't willing to promise that he will keep his job.

''Labor believes in a frank and fearless public service, but the Liberals seem to want a public service that's flaccid and fearful.'' Mr Leigh's comments came after Mr Hockey cast doubt on Friday morning on the independence of the economic update due for release by the Treasury and Finance departments after the election is called.

Mr Hockey alleged that Treasury officials had been bullied by the government to produce favourable numbers and said the Coalition would not rely on the department's official figures or forecasts.

Asked by a radio interviewer if Mr Parkinson's job was safe under a Coalition government, the shadow treasurer declined to say.

''Well, I am not going to go down a hubristic route and suggest that anyone has any job,'' Mr Hockey said.

''The only job that matters to me is to try and become the treasurer of Australia and that's in the hands of the Australian people.''

The position appears to be a step away by Mr Hockey from statements he made in May that all departmental secretaries would be given ''the benefit of the doubt'', if the Liberals won government.

Mr Parkinson was forced to defend his Treasury's performance in May with the Departmental Secretary rejecting allegations that budget numbers were ''tailored'' to fit the Labor government's agenda.

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