Opposition sticks to public sector job cuts plan

Joe Hockey says his past job cuts at Medicare never affected service delivery

The Federal Opposition is sticking by its Budget 2010 Reply promise to slash public service jobs in an effort to reign in spending, despite industry warnings that it could negatively affect ICT skills in the sector.

Speaking at a press conference in Canberra, Opposition treasurer, Joe Hockey, went further and said that cuts to staff, including those in ICT delivery, would not adversely affect government agencies ability to provide services.

“It is hard to cut jobs, I have done it before as a minister in Medicare Australia and when I did it I was warned it would affect services and it didn’t,” he said.

“There is no satisfaction on our behalf in cutting jobs, but we have to reduce expenditure on the operations of our own business. From my perspective, there will be no negative impact on government service delivery.”

The comments follow warnings that the non-replacement of senior staff retiring from the public service would leave a vacuum, and the moratorium on graduate recruitment would come back to haunt government agencies.

Speaking to Computerworld Australia following Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s Budget 2010 Reply, Bob Olivier, director at recruiter the Olivier Group said the headcount freeze would leave the public sector without the flexibility to manage its skill base.

Hockey also commented on the National Broadband Network, arguing that the public sector rarely made good infrastructure investment decisions based on rigorous cost-benefits analyses.

“The government should not be involved in unnecessary and uneconomic infrastructure projects,” he said. “The federal government must not punt the taxpayers’ money on particular technological bets which may become expensive White Elephants.”

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