Date: May 05 2012
The jobs of many more public servants are now in jeopardy as departments brace for a double blow from higher superannuation costs and demands for more savings to prop up Tuesday's budget.
Their anxiety was also fuelled by the Coalition, which is calling for their positions to be axed rather than welfare be taken off single parents.
''The government is always keen to take a baseball bat to families whereas it rarely gives itself a smack across the chops,'' Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said yesterday.
''I want to see them reducing the size of their own business, of their own home, rather than punishing people out there all the time.''
Ministers said payments introduced by the Howard government for single parents with tots would be halted in the budget to pressure people to look for work. Federal agency heads have received a confidential report showing that the cost of super for public servants has increased markedly in the past three years.
They will have to find the extra funds without government help, according to the soon-to-be published PSS and CSS Long-Term Cost Report.
The spectre of many more jobs being lost in the budget has alarmed the public service union which is again warning of longer queues at government shopfronts.
The Community and Public Sector Union says more than 2800 positions have already been targeted since the government increased the so-called efficiency dividend from 1.5 per cent to 4 per cent in the coming financial year.
A grim-faced Treasurer would not comment on the future of public servants worried about job security as the higher efficiency dividend leaves departments with no option but to sack some staff.
Wayne Swan held a media conference on the steps of the Treasury building as he put the finishing touches on the budget.
''There's no doubt that we've got to have belt tightening across the board,'' he said.
ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries said the government was not being upfront about the cuts to the public service whereas the Coalition has committed to reducing the public service by 12,000 by attrition.
''There ought to be a reduction in spending,'' he said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard emphasised the government's determination to cut spending to deliver a budget surplus.
''As a result we've had to make some very tough choices,'' she said.
About $700 million will be saved under the proposed move to transfer single parents to the Newstart allowance when their youngest child turns eight.
For partnered parents, income support will end when their youngest child turns six.
The crackdown on welfare is expected to affect 10,000 single parents who have been allowed to receive the allowance until their youngest child turned 16.
The National Welfare Rights Network estimated a single parent would lose about $59 in income a week.
Also, welfare recipients will lose benefits if they travel overseas for more than six weeks.
Pensioners are tipped to lose the mobility, telephone and utilities allowance.
Mr Swan said the government wanted to place more people in training and work and make it easier to get childcare.
Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury said the government was concerned people did not become permanently dependent on welfare payments.
Opposition families spokesman Kevin Andrews said while it was appropriate to shift people from welfare to work, there was a danger the measures affecting single parents amounted to a ''cash grab''.
Mr Swan has promised deep cuts to programs to bring the budget from a $40 billion deficit to a $1 billion surplus.
However his task will be made harder if government revenue falls more than predicted.
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