Labor hits back at Seselja claims on public service funding

Labor has hit back at claims by Liberal Senator Zed Seselja that the party's plans for cutting spending on contractors and consultants amounts to a cut to public sector funding.

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said Senator Seselja talking about public service jobs is "like an arsonist giving lectures on fire safety".

Labor has promised to remove the cap on public sector jobs imposed by the Coalition, and to forgo the 0.5 per cent efficiency dividend for the next financial year. The opposition also wants to curb spending on contractors and consultants, which has ballooned in the last six years.

Labor Senate candidate for the ACT Katy Gallagher says Zed Seselja's claims about the public service can't be trusted. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Labor Senate candidate for the ACT Katy Gallagher says Zed Seselja's claims about the public service can't be trusted. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Senator Seselja said this would result in a $2.1 billion cut to the public service, a claim that has been shouted down today.

The full amount spent on contractors and consultants across the public service is difficult to measure but the big four accounting and consulting companies alone have tripled how much they rake in from the government since the Coalition came to government, taking in $562 million last year.

Dr Leigh said the Coalition's record on public service jobs meant the comments couldn't be trusted.

"Under the Liberals, one in ten federal public service jobs have gone from Canberra. Labor will boost public service jobs by removing the arbitrary ASL cap, not proceed with the Liberals' 0.5 per cent efficiency dividend next year, and add 1200 new DHS staff," he said.

"We'll rein in wasteful spending on contractors, and reduce travel spending. Canberrans are sick of the Liberals' cuts and lies - it's time for change."

Former Labor senator Katy Gallagher, who is hoping to return to the upper house after Saturday's election, labelled the claim from the Liberals "desperate".

"We've made it very clear that investments in the public service, effective wage bargaining, getting rid of the staffing cap, not pursuing the final efficiency dividend are all part of our plans as are investing in public services like TAFE, like the NDIS, like human services," she said.

Ms Gallagher said Labor was committed to a strong and independent public service and wanted to increase internal capability.

"That's what the Labor government wants to see and its in stark contrast to what we've seen in the past six years, which is a decline in capability of the public service here, inability to resolve the wage outcomes for the public service ... and a lack of respect for the public service, which everyone knows, in Canberra is our BHP."

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