Business

Labor's new reforms fail the public sector: Stone

THE Fair Work Amendment introduced into the Federal House of Representatives this week probably offers better politics for the Labor Party than protection for public servants in Queensland.

It paints a handy picture for the Labor Party: while the LNP is cutting jobs, the ALP is trying to protect workers.  But the unfortunate truth is that most public sector workers will be no better off as a result of this bill.

The amendment only offers protection in cases where the work of the public service is being outsourced.  If a former public servant finds that within three months of being pushed out of the public service they are doing exactly the same work in the private sector (i.e. their part of the public service has effectively been privatised), they will be entitled to the same pay and conditions as they enjoyed while performing that work in the public sector.

There is no doubt that we will see plenty of such outsourcing to the private sector.  The Queensland Government has already made some specific announcements: the State Reporting Bureau is to be outsourced, as is some of the forensic science work done at the John Tonge Centre, and the Government's airwing assets may also soon be shuffled off to the private sector.

And the Government has specifically legislated to remove the protections against outsourcing from awards and enterprise bargaining agreements - a sure indication of their plans for the future.

But most of the many thousands of public sector workers being shown the door are not being outsourced.  They are simply being sacked, in clear violation of an election commitment.

For them, this amendment offers nothing.

They will pack up their desks and head for the door, unsure about their future, worried for their families, saddened to part with friends and colleagues, with ceaseless spin and deception making an already difficult situation that much harder.

They'll be told that their departure is voluntary, but if they had chosen to be redeployed and were unsuccessful after four months (a real risk given that the budget made clear that there will be 10 600 redundancies), they would have been retrenched with a smaller payout.  Some choice.

They'll recall the LNP's oft-stated commitment to front line services, even though some of them are nurses and doctors.

They'll hear implausible exaggerations about Queensland's financial position rolled out as justification for their dismissal.  They may well wonder how they unwittingly came to settle in Spain.

They may also wonder how we cannot afford their salaries while we can afford to forego $211 million over the forward estimates freezing car registration on some large vehicles (p.133), over $90 million per year abolishing the waste levy (p.128), $430 million over the forward estimates by raising the payroll tax threshold (p.138), and $917 million over the forward estimates by reintroducing concessional stamp duty (p.138).

They could be puzzled that, at the same time as we strangle the State's income, we can manage to splash $92 million on an $80 non-means tested handout to every household with a water connection (p.41), and $63 million on compensation for electricity retailers to cover lost revenue from a freeze on the standard residential electricity tariff (p.41).

Strange priorities for Spain, no?

I know, I know.  These measures are all in fulfillment of election promises.

But permanent public servants were also promised that they would not be forced out of their jobs and the Queensland community was promised that it would not have to suffer cuts to front line services.

So don't expect those who have lost their livelihoods to take much comfort in the knowledge that these rather more serious commitments have been sacrificed to pay for opportunistic pandering to the fiction that we are suffering a cost of living crisis.

Adam Stone is Lead Senate Candidate for the Queensland Greens.

Topics:  fair work, greens, opinion, public service




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

THE EXPERT: Stop judging working mothers

SUPER MUMS: Being a working mums comes down to perfecting time management.

"WORKING for money is all right; so is working because you want to.”

OPINION: How to prepare your child for day care

Your kids will love childcare, but it may take some adjusting.

GETTING your child ready for day care is vital.

MUMS' TOP 5: 'Musts' to have on your childcare checklist

SOME FALL SHORT: Organisations that train childcare workers will be subjected to extra audits.

SENDING your child off to day care can be daunting and confusing.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Truck crash closes Cunningham Hwy near Warwick

NSW State Emergency Services Fire Rescue Truck Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate.

Highway to be closed for at least an hour while wreckage removed

Florence’s beloved bridge club bash

Florence Slattery celebrates her 100th birthday with her beloved Warwick Bridge Club.

Another 100th celebration for Florence

Crazy goats, frozen deck chairs and whole lot of ice

A goat on a Southern Downs property trying to escape the cold.

Images from the Southern Downs cold blast

Latest deals and offers

Three bedroom, 1100sqm block: Is this Qld's cheapest home?

BARGAIN BUY: Is this North Bundaberg property the cheapest home in Queensland?

Becoming a real estate mogul is all about risk and reward

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%