Bill's Media Releases

Australia’s public sector workers: Labor respects, Liberals attack

Labor will always support the hard work of Australia’s 1.8 million public sector workers, Employment Minister Bill Shorten said today.

 “Right across Australia, the Labor Party respects and appreciates the work of federal, state and local government public sector workers and recognises their delivery of services, trenchant analysis, advice and their emotional and physical care,” Mr Shorten said.

 “Without our public sector workforce and the hard work they do, Australia would not be as modern, would not be as fair, would not be as safe, well governed and would not be as compassionate.”

 The Minister said it was important to recognise Australia’s entire public sector where 80,000 are demonised and put squarely in the path of the conservatives’ swinging axe.

 “The conservatives look at workers in the public sector and don’t see people with jobs providing vital services, they just see targets on spreadsheets. They have this week treated these, their fellow Australians, with disrespect and contempt.”

 Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb has revealed this contempt, saying many public servants had little to do other than ''leave a paper trail, to cover backsides.'' (Canberra Times, 22 August 2012)

 “You will seldom hear a conservative praising a public sector employee, you’ll only hear them pouring scorn on them and messing with their heads.”

 Just this week we have seen:

 In New South Wales, Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell slash $1.7 billion from education funding, including cutting 800 jobs from TAFE, and put an additional $3 billion in health funding and the jobs of thousands of doctors and nurses on the chopping block. Cuts to the New South Wales public service total some 15,000 in the last two budgets

  • In Victoria, Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu is planning even more TAFE cuts, selling off campus after campus, lifting fees and sacking teachers. Premier Baillieu, in direct contradiction to the recommendations of the Black Saturday commission, has also cut $66 million from Victoria’s fire-fighting services in the lead up to this year’s bushfire season. Some 5,500 Victorian public sector employees are facing the axe under Mr Baillieu

  • In South Australia, Liberal leader Isobel Redmond has proposed to cut 25,000 public sector jobs.

  • In Queensland, LNP Premier Campbell Newman is sacking 14,000 public sector workers – teachers, nurses, community workers among others. This after telling them before the election they had ‘nothing to fear from him’. To add insult to injury, he is cutting job creation programs like the $287 million Skilling Queenslanders for Work and he has defunded the Queensland Working Womens’ Centre

  • At a Federal level Tony Abbott’s Coalition have a proposal to cut 20,000 from the Commonwealth public service – bringing the entire national total to 79,500.


 These cuts have gone ahead with the full knowledge and support of Tony Abbott. Campbell Newman said last month “[Tony Abbott] is very understanding, he and people like Joe Hockey have been incredibly supportive.” (Lateline - 27/08/12)

 And just last Friday the Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey praised Campbell Newman’s savage cuts, saying “all strength to his right arm, he's showing incredible courage.” (Hockey - The Age - September 7, 2012)

 “We also know Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne were briefed about Barry O’Farrell’s education cuts before they were announced. The question now is what did they know about his plans to cut $3 billion from health?”

 “What we are seeing is state conservatives right across the country showing their true colours by sacking important people and slashing important programs,” Mr Shorten said.

 “What Australians should all be worried about is not what Tony Abbott is saying to you now, but what he’ll do to you should he get into office.”

 The Minister emphasised that the Gillard Government had  supported Australia’s 1.8 million public sector employees in a range of ways, including delivering fairness at work and protection from unfair dismissal through the Fair Work Act, harmonising Australia’s occupational health and safety laws, boosting universal superannuation from 9 to 12 per cent and helping deliver an historic pay equity case which means more pay for about 150,000 social and community sector workers, most of whom are women.