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ACT Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson tells PM: Not happy, Tony

Date

Phillip Thomson

Canberra Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson.

Canberra Liberal leader Jeremy Hanson. Photo: Jay Cronan

ACT Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson has lashed out against his Liberal colleague and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Mr Hanson said the nation's leader should urgently reconsider his government's unjustifiable decision to move 600 federal public service jobs to the NSW central coast city of Gosford.

His call comes months after the ACT Liberals were described as being seen as "Abbott's foot soldiers" by the party's former territory senator, Gary Humphries.

It also arrives as the Prime Minister battles a rebellion from Coalition premiers around the country about cuts to health and education, which they see as a strategy to increase the GST.

"I'd rather not be at odds with the Prime Minister, but what I'm doing is standing up for Canberra," Mr Hanson told The Canberra Times. "We are the national capital. The public service should be here unless there's good reason for it to be elsewhere.

"I see this [decision to relocate staff] as robbing Peter to pay Paul.

"I call policy as I see it. If it's good, I'll support it; if it's bad, I'll say that, too."

Mr Hanson sent a letter to Mr Abbott in early May which said Canberra should not carry an unfair burden in the budget.

Last Thursday, two days after the budget, he sent another letter saying the relocation of positions would disproportionately affect Canberra as the territory is already due to lose jobs through redundancies and attrition.

The nation's capital could be hit with as many as 6500 or more job cuts in three years as the bureaucracy loses 16,500 jobs nationally.

When asked whether he could see the benefit of boosting jobs on the central coast to help his fellow Coalition politicians, Mr Hanson replied: "That has absolutely no bearing on my decision-making."

But he added: "I understand the Prime Minister is in a tough position because of what he inherited from Labor."

He has not written to Mr Abbott about the projected 16,500 job losses and noted there was little difference between the two major parties regarding redundancies - about 14,500 jobs would have been lost if Labor held onto power, according to Finance Department advice.

Mr Hanson said he could at least see the financial reason for the Coalition’s 16,500 cuts, but could not see a strong enough argument for the relocation of positions.

Half of the 600 jobs about to be relocated to the central coast will be from the Australian Tax Office, which Joe Hockey's federal budget hit harder than any other agency or department.

The ATO will lose 4700 jobs over the forward estimates period to 2017-18, some of which have already been cut.

In a move undermining the territory as the home of the federal bureaucracy, the federal government will open a new building at Gosford to house the new workers and boost employment in a region dominated by Liberal MPs.

Accounting, information technology, professional services and legal roles could be some of the job descriptions to relocate.

In March, former ACT chief minister and ousted Liberal senator Gary Humphries said the Abbott government’s push for smaller government created a distaste for the party brand in the territory.

Mr Humphries called on the Canberra Liberals to differentiate themselves to beat Labor at the next election.

A spokesman for the federal Treasurer’s office said on Thursday the number of staff being relocated from Canberra had not yet been determined.

On the same day, Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann said the decision was a slap in the face for Canberra and betrayed Sir Robert Menzies' vision for the territory as the nation’s public service headquarters.

11 comments

  • Well done to Jeremy Hanson for speaking up for the ACT, but where is the Liberal senator?
    It is difficult to understand how the Federal Liberals win a Senate seat in the ACT.

    Commenter
    Ray
    Date and time
    May 19, 2014, 10:29AM
    • Yes, where is the Senator for Brindabella in all this, especially since DHS in Tuggers is being hit especially hard?

      Commenter
      His Lordship
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 12:20PM
    • Does the ACT still have a Liberal senator? I hadn't seen or heard of one since Gary Humphries was forcibly "retired".

      Commenter
      Robert
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 9:46PM
  • I do not think anyone is happy in the ACT and I am now finding it difficult to identify anyone who admits to have voted Liberal!

    Commenter
    O o'P
    Date and time
    May 19, 2014, 10:51AM
    • I did, I also took Rudds $900- handout and watched as the carbon tax took around $500- from each family and then nearly 50,000 refugee's showed up costing us about $6 billion dollars and now as in right now the whole country has to scrimp on some areas due to mis management by the previous Government.... Soo yes I voted Liberal and now it is time to pay, unfortunately Tony the Brave has to be bearer of the bad news but this is better than Labor wasting many more billions, reopening our borders and generally being fiscally irresponsible, think of your children and how the Country will be in a better position when they are older enough to vote. So sick of people being selfish and only in it for themselves, a little self sacrifice for the greater good is necessary right now so yes I voted for them and in no way regret my decision!!

      Commenter
      Think your better than me
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 3:32PM
  • Gee, I have noticed that Zed has gone missing in action recently. Could he be embarrassed by his own leader. Could his claims that the 16500 job cuts plus 600 to the central coast were all Labor lies be coming back to make him look a fool. The truth is that Zed is from the ultra conservative hard right of the Liberals, just like Abbott and would agree with everything he's doing. No room for moderates any more in the Liberal Party like Humphries. Sadly Seselja has his cushy little number for six years. Enjoy your time.

    Commenter
    Where's Zeddy?
    Date and time
    May 19, 2014, 10:56AM
    • I can understand making the public service smaller, as the Liberals believe in government doing less so they should need fewer staff, however the planned reduction of 16,500 positions is more than the 12,000 taken to the election and more than the 14,500 that were set to go under Labor's public service settings. As the home of the public service, Canberra will bear the brunt off those job losses and the number of jobs going will have proportionally bigger impacts here than the closure of car manufacturing plants in Vic & SA. Seeing that the government is about to save more money than it was planning to during the election campaign, it would be fair to invest part of those additional savings in the ACT region to assist the private sector to grow and create more jobs for the young people coming out of the ACT's schools and universities.

      Reducing the size of the public service and then shifting some of the existing staff to a new location is a double whammy for Canberra. There will be vacant commercial property here while my understanding is that they will construct a new building on the coast. How is that a responible use of taxpayers' money?

      Commenter
      James Daniels
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 11:25AM
      • Get your house deposits ready

        Commenter
        JoniWalker
        Location
        CBR
        Date and time
        May 19, 2014, 4:22PM
    • Hanson's wasting his breath. At federal level there are not enough votes in Canberra for the Coalition and they hate the place and everything it and it's people represent, they always have.

      Commenter
      yumq
      Location
      cbr
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 11:26AM
      • Too right and rightly so. Canberra is a hotbed of lefty causes and we cannot expect sympathy from the Coalition. The reason for the extreme left ideology in the ACT is the lack of understanding of what goes on outside its borders. Also, in spite of the much higher education standards found among most workers in the ACT, there seems to be little understanding of how wealth is created in the real world. Economics is not our strong point. Lots of money just appears in the bank every second Thursday. That's all we really need to know.

        Commenter
        Gassius
        Location
        Kambah ACT
        Date and time
        May 20, 2014, 5:10AM

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