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Coalition plans to move public service to the north

The Community and Public Sector Union is campaigning against the policy to shift public servants to northern Australia. <i>Image: CPSU </i>

The Community and Public Sector Union is campaigning against the policy to shift public servants to northern Australia. Image: CPSU

The federal Coalition wants to shift parts of the bureaucracy to northern Australia to help develop the cities and towns of the region.

However, any changes are likely to be minor, as the agencies nominated already base staff in the north.

The public servants’ union also opposes the shift, saying Liberal leader Tony Abbott is telling staff: ''It’s the outback or the sack.''

Mr Abbott released his party’s northern Australia policy on Friday, saying he was determined to break the ''development deadlock'' that held the region back.

The policy document says a Coalition government will draft a white paper that will ''consider relocation of relevant components of federal government departments and Commonwealth agencies, such as CSIRO and AQIS, to key urban areas in northern Australia''.

''There is an obvious potential logic to relocating those components of Commonwealth functions that are directly (or to a large extent) focused on northern Australia to that region,'' it says.

''Nevertheless, relocation of Commonwealth agencies or functions should only occur where there is in inherent logic, cost advantage and where any such relocation is of advantage to the nation as a whole and to long-term productivity growth.''

Yet the relevant workforces of the two agencies named are already in the region.

The CSIRO has about 60 staff in Alice Springs, Atherton, Cairns, Darwin and Townsville working on tropical and arid-systems research. It also has agricultural scientists in Toowoomba and Woodstock, in Queensland.

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service no longer exists: it became Biosecurity Australia in 2011, part of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Only 40 per cent of the department’s workforce lives in the ACT, and it already has offices in Darwin, Cairns, Mackay and Townsville.

The Community and Public Sector Union’s national secretary, Nadine Flood, said the plan lacked credibility and would cost an enormous amount of money.

“Forcing public servants to choose between staying with their family and communities or following their jobs north would be cruel and unfair.”

She also warned that, under existing workplace agreements, public servants could not be forced to relocate long distances.

“Once again we see Tony Abbott is using the public service as a political football. One day he wants to slash jobs, the next he wants them to pack up and move to northern Australia.”

Last month, Mr Abbott suggested moving “as many public servants as we can reasonably locate outside of Canberra”.

“I'm all in favour of trying to ensure that at least some government agencies aren't in the national capital because I think it's important - particularly when they are service-delivery agencies - for them to be amongst the people they are seeking to help,” he told a Geelong radio station.

Last year, multibillionaire Gina Rinehart argued in favour of a more radical plan to move entire departments, including Defence, to northern Australia.

“We need our government departments and government advisers exposed to more of Australia: regions outside of Canberra and the NSW coast, where they usually holiday for their annual vacations,” she wrote.

About two in every five federal public servants work in Canberra.

 

26 comments

  • Well it can't go any further south! *slaps knee

    Commenter
    That is all....carry on
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    June 21, 2013, 3:36PM
    • Gee, this looks suspiciously like Gina's vision for the north. Gotta punish those climate scientists, let's send them to Karattha. After all they've made us look silly. I'm happy for Tony to have a vision for the north. Let's hope he moves there, preferably Alaska. This is another one of his lame brained thought bubbles. It means absolutely nothing. What about education, health, the economy, etc?

      Commenter
      Ronald Amundsen
      Date and time
      June 21, 2013, 4:13PM
      • Bring it on.
        Lets hope he gets rid of half of the bloated el1 and above positions that have been created since labor-greens took over. Seriously most of these people couldn't manage a pub chook raffle let alone begin to justify their 6 figure salaries!

        Commenter
        Pete
        Date and time
        June 21, 2013, 4:42PM
        • "About two in every five federal public servants work in Canberra."

          Meaning 3 out of 5 - i.e. the majority - already work outside Canberra already.

          Commenter
          That Guy
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          June 21, 2013, 4:56PM
          • "About two in every five federal public servants work in Canberra."
            Meaning 3 out of 5 - i.e. the majority - already work outside Canberra already.

            No. as in two in every five public servants work.

            Maybe Abbott and his mates have some commercial tenancies up that way that need filling.

            Why would you need to disperse when you need to down size?

            Commenter
            Yoda
            Date and time
            June 22, 2013, 3:14PM
        • The CPSU is a union is it not? It is part of the "Labor Movement" is it not? Ergo, it opposes the Coalition.

          Not a lot of thinking there, not a lot of anything really, other than taking the union dues to fund their irrelevance.

          Commenter
          Outdated Concept
          Location
          Canberra
          Date and time
          June 21, 2013, 5:30PM
          • minus 5 Canberra winter nights vs year round summers up North.... Hmmmm, sounds like a pretty good deal!

            Commenter
            Jerry
            Date and time
            June 21, 2013, 6:48PM
            • First cut the NBN so moving outside of Canberra is made very expensive to communicate, then spread the public service throughout the country.

              Move public servant into flood and cyclone zones so they can keep the economies going.

              Who sounds like Hanson now - sound like so popular ideas to people who don't know much about the public service, but unfortunately it doesn't make economic sense in the long run. There was good reason Canberra was established.

              I thought the politicians were suppose to represent their voters so the policies made sense not sending public servant all over the place 'cause they can't do their jobs.

              Commenter
              KaH
              Location
              Cbr
              Date and time
              June 21, 2013, 7:20PM
              • You forgot the the cold in Canberra.

                We should concentrate all public servants in Sydney's northern beaches region... laid back environment, reasonably warm, nice outlook to the sea.... in fact, bugger regional development or building our country, let's move all 23 million of us there.

                Commenter
                Turn out the lights
                Date and time
                June 22, 2013, 11:42AM
            • Wonderful! More rich Southerners buy up all the prime housing and land making it completely unaffordable for locals absolutely destroying the local economy. Growth comes to a stand still. Our wages cant possibly compete with that of southerners. This government has made things so bad here it has forced most of the northerners down south to find high paying jobs because cost of living is so unattainable for us. You wonder why we hate politicians and treat them with absolute contempt. They've destroyed this nation only to feather their own nests.

              What will be marvelous is when they find out how little is actually up here because its all spent on the big cities and we're completely neglected every time. They will probably come pouring back with their tail between their legs as most mining jobs go.

              Another pipe dream with no substance from the LNP yet again.

              Turn the north into a food bowl. What with? All the water is gone for coal seam gas or is so polluted it is unusable. The temperatures will be increasing up here to levels never seen before. The soil is incredibly poor in nutrient. Fertilizer is decreasing globally. Then there's the lack of infrastructure for shipping. What happens during the rainy season when it floods. The food will rot in semis. We have no flood proof roads because of poor planning and wasteful governments. they would rather spend it on themselves with secret rorts and massive pay rises.

              Where is it in writing. They haven't worked out anything at all. All talk and no action as usual. People wake up. We don't have to put up with this rubbish!

              People vote for Labor or the LNP.

              Don't waste your vote anymore!

              Have another baloney sandwich on me Julia and Tony :-(

              Commenter
              Noogie
              Location
              Bundaberg
              Date and time
              June 21, 2013, 7:52PM

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