Labor to move motion on Abbott's comments

ACT Labor wants Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to endorse a ''Statement of Commitment to Canberra'' after he suggested more public servants should be based outside the ACT.

On Monday, Mr Abbott said during an interview with a Geelong radio station that as many federal public jobs as reasonably possible should be located away from Canberra.

Labor MLA Chris Bourke will move a motion in the Assembly on Wednesday asking Speaker Vicki Dunne to write to the federal Opposition Leader about his comments.

Mr Abbott's office accused the ACT government last night of misleading the people of Canberra with the motion and said the ACT would benefit from a stronger national economy under a Coalition government.

If the Labor motion is adopted by the assembly, Mr Abbott will be asked to: ''Respond in writing to the assembly on his intentions on the federal public service including any current plans to relocate departments, agencies or other Canberra-based entities outside of the ACT.''

He would also be asked to endorse a statement of commitment to the national capital, signed by the federal government last year.


The statement included a ''commitment for Canberra remaining the heart of the Australian Public Service and the primary location of government department and agencies''.

A spokesman for Mr Abbott said the opposition remained committed to cutting 12,000 jobs from the public service through natural attrition.

''The ACT Labor Party should explain why it is dishonestly misleading the people of Canberra with this motion,'' the spokesman said.

''It is Coalition policy to reduce the size of the public service by 12,000 through natural attrition.

''The Commonwealth public sector payroll is 20,000 greater now than at the end of 2007, so a reduction by natural attrition of 12,000 would still leave the Commonwealth public sector payroll bigger than it was when the Howard government left office.''

The spokesman said ACT Labor had failed to condemn the Gillard government's use of an efficiency dividend and slashing of 3000 public service jobs.

''There will be a stronger economy if the Coalition is elected in September and that will benefit Canberra,'' the spokesman said.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said Mr Abbott should make clear before the election what commitment he had for Canberra.

''He needs to make it clear on that: what is his commitment to Canberra, what his commitment is to the public service and any plans he has to move agencies and departments out of Canberra,'' she said.


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