Greens leader Christine Milne has made a spirited defence of the public service while also condemning both major parties for not doing enough to protect jobs in the sector.
Speaking at a fundraiser dinner last night for the ACT Greens election campaign, Senator Milne took a swipe at both Labor and Liberal for talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to jobs.
She said both sides of politics saw the public sector as an easy target.
''The Labor and Coalition parties talk a lot about securing jobs but at the same time are perfectly happy to fire thousands of public servants,'' Senator Milne said.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently addressed public servants telling them how much they were valued and she attacked Liberal premiers for their current round of state public service funding and job cuts.
But the federal government still intends to slash thousands of jobs in the sector, while the opposition has even more public service positions in their sights. During a wide ranging address last night, Senator Milne said public servants often work in the background and too often get taken for granted.
''They are what keeps this nation functioning,'' she said. ''They are the people who look out for our safety, safeguard our health, educate us and our children, build our cycling infrastructure … and perform the thousands of other tasks that allow us to lead our daily lives in relative ease and stability.''
The Greens leader said the 1.5 per cent efficiency dividend imposed on the public service, which has increased to 4 per cent for this financial year, is causing stress among workers and will severely impact on service delivery and nation building.
She outlined her plan to find billions of dollars in budget savings without sacrificing jobs.
This included dropping fossil fuel subsidies and closing the mining tax loophole that has the federal government compensating mining companies for states' royalty hikes.
Yesterday, the Greens also proposed a costed policy to reform superannuation which they say would save another $10 billion over four years.
Senator Milne also praised Canberra's cultural institutions as places that are ''great for our nation, for our tourism and the ACT economy''.
''For those employed in our national cultural institutions, the National Gallery, the National Museum, the National Library, the Film and Sound Archive among others, the Greens were able to organise for a $40 million injection to offset the philistine-inducing efficiency dividend,'' she said.