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PS not your enemy, senator tells Abbott

Gary Humphries in his Parliamentary office ahead of his valedictory speech tomorrow.

Gary Humphries in his Parliamentary office ahead of his valedictory speech tomorrow. Photo: Melissa Adams

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will be given a stern lecture on Wednesday - by one of his team - to respect the public service rather then treat it like ''the enemy''.

Outgoing ACT Liberal Gary Humphries will bluntly say a Coalition government will regret any decision to cut sharply into the public service.

''As they look to make government leaner and meaner, they have to be very careful that they don't wither the capacity to deal with the big challenges of a Liberal government's agenda by getting so many people out the door that they suddenly find themselves incapable of delivering what they promised,'' Senator Humphries said on Tuesday evening.

"They have to be aware the public service is an asset to be looked after like a car - you've got to make sure it's oiled and properly fuelled and looked after.

"Without that sense of the value of the public service to a Liberal government, they will be in trouble.''

Senator Humphries will deliver the lesson for an incoming Coalition government to respect the public service as ''a crucially important national asset'' when he gives his valedictory speech on Wednesday.

"They need to make sure it's professional, properly resourced and motivated and is trusted because, as a government, they will absolutely depend on having a public service which is full of those things to deliver whatever we promise to do at the election,'' he said.

"Sometimes it's easy to think of the public service as being part of the government of the day, part of the enemy - we can't afford to fall into that track.

"I'm going to remind my colleagues that they need to think of the public service in a positive and constructive way.''

When Senator Humphries says goodbye to the Senate, he intends to turn the abrupt end of his political career into a positive.

He knows he is young enough - 55 next month - to pursue a third career but does not intend to accept a diplomatic post if the Coalition wins the election.

Instead, he has his eye firmly on embracing a role in Canberra developing public policy.

This year Senator Humphries lost a preselection contest to Zed Seselja, who had given up the role as ACT opposition leader to move into federal politics.

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott stood firmly by Senator Humphries during the contest and will speak at a farewell function for the ACT senator on Wednesday evening.

Senator Humphries said he would never be happy about the circumstances of the preselection battle but he was focused on defeating Labor.

''I want an end to the charade of Labor government more than I wish any ill will towards Zed,'' he said.

''I want him to succeed and be the next Liberal senator because I want the Coalition to have the numbers to do what it needs to do in the next Parliament.

''I'm not going to step away from the opinions I expressed about the process of the preselection, but it's yesterday's story.''

Senator Humphries should be entitled to a lifelong pension of about $80,000 a year when he leaves the Senate in September.

His speech will cover his decade in the Senate as well as his time in the Legislative Assembly, where he was not able to deliver a valedictory speech. He says the stand-out highlight of his Senate career was being part of inquiries into mental health and the forgotten Australians. ''These key inquiries led to lots of extra dollars for mental health and to the apology to the forgotten Australians,'' he said.

''Those are things that really made a big difference in people's lives and I feel a lot of sense of satisfaction about that.''

From his time as Chief Minister, Senator Humphries nominates the highlight as the creation of an ACT helicopter rescue service, against public service objections to the cost.

''When we came to office in '95, the department said you can't achieve a rescue helicopter service, it ain't going to happen, and I said, yes it is going to happen, and three years later, it did,'' he said. Senator Humphries, a solicitor before politics, will return to the private sector. ''I think it's important to be able to make my own way and I've been on a government payroll of one sort or another for a quarter of a century,'' he said. ''I've had some offers from people to work in areas to do with public policy and that's exciting. It'll be based in Canberra, it'll be public policy based, but which of the options in that mould I choose is a decision I'm yet to make.''

29 comments

  • Take note Lundy and you two below the line Labor reps.

    Humphries has been standing up while you clowns allow "efficiency dividends" to cut back what can be delivered. Then you leave us with paid parking in the Parliamentary triangle without checking to see what impact that will have not just on PS employees, but the students and casual employees that provide services.

    Don't any of you expect to be returned in September.

    Commenter
    YS
    Date and time
    June 26, 2013, 7:51AM
    • You do realise that city workers have to pay for their own parking? That happens everyday to millions of white collar workers in the major cities.

      Commenter
      Gerry
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:50AM
    • So you take Labor to task for cutbacks in the public service, yet are eager to vote in the LNP who have promised far deeper and more sweeping cuts? Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

      Commenter
      crystalsinger
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:50AM
    • Although, do expect both of them and Gai Brodtmann to be returned in September, since both Canberra and Fraser, and a Senate seat, have always been safe Labor...

      Commenter
      Xavier
      Location
      Reid
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:53AM
    • LOL - So YS, you are an advocate of cutting your nose to spite your face.

      Commenter
      Chris
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:55AM
    • Thanks for the laugh. Hockey and Abbott have talked about shafting up to twenty thousand public servants after September. They are moving whole departments, even suggesting that the CSIRO to Karratha in WA. The Coalition has an ideological hatred of the public service and a track record of slashing and burning. Canberra went into recession when Howard came to office, Campbell Newman has slashed and burned in a frenzy of cuts. They will privatise and outsource as much as possible even if it proves to be more expensive. The demise of twenty thousand public servants will cause many small businesses to go to the wall, businesses who rely on the public sector. Humphries has done virtually nothing and Zed, the man who has lost all respect in Tuggeranong for abandoning its residents for political gain will do even less. He achieved nothing in the Assembly and is hoping to move to the Senate because he thinks it will be a cushy little number. I agree with paid parking in the parliamentary triangle. Have you ever tried to take visitors to galleries during the week? Finding a parking spot is impossible. Canberrans will yet again prove to be the most intelligent, discerning voters in September and elect a majority of Labor members. They are the least likely to be sucked in by Abbott's lies and Murdoch's misinformation. Sadly for you they'll all be returned. I am one of many Tuggeranong residents hoping Zed is not.

      Commenter
      Lord Lucan
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 8:58AM
    • Big deal. This is one of the very rare occasions Gary Humphries has advocated in Federal Parliament for the ACT. Now that he's leaving, he can afford to, without jeopardising his own career. Do we really think Abbott will listen?

      Commenter
      Canberran
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 9:12AM
    • @ Lord Lucan...just your usual stick and paste work.

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 10:18AM
    • Martin says. Just the usual negative, conservative spin. Look forward to you justifying Abbott decimating Canberra. I think many of the Canberra Coalition supporters will quieten down after September. I suppose you'll be voting for his non existent policies.

      Commenter
      Lord Lucan
      Date and time
      June 26, 2013, 12:32PM
  • Of course the Public Service is not "Slick" Abbott's enemy, they are the professionals.

    Its the Australian people who do not want Murdoch, Pell and Gina Rinehart running the country ....... they are "Slick" Abbott's true enemy.

    Commenter
    J. Fraser
    Location
    Queensland
    Date and time
    June 26, 2013, 8:49AM

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