Turnbull Budget bad for Centrelink, doubles down on disastrous cuts

 
The CPSU has warned of more looming disasters in service provision in the coming year, after a Federal Budget that did little to repair the Turnbull Government’s cuts to essential public services and public policy capacity and cuts some key areas further. 

The biggest single cut is 1,188 jobs slashed in the Department of Human Services.

 CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “Treasurer Scott Morrison is trying to sell this as a responsible and fair Budget, but the reality is he’s dug a bigger hole for the Government by continuing with short-sighted and unfair cuts to public services.”

 “This Government has hollowed out essential services and policy capacity with $7.6 billion of cuts since 2013 and the impact of that reached a tipping point in the past year as the Government’s been hit by disaster after disaster, from Census fail to Centrelink robo-debt.”

“It's breathtaking that despite these disasters the Government is doubling down on its cuts with another $1.9 billion to be cut through its so-called 'efficiency dividend' and $277 million in DHS jobs alone. That means Malcolm Turnbull is arbitrarily ripping more than $2 billion out of public services that are already well past breaking point.” 

“The Government’s refusal to repair the damage it has caused through years of cuts means there’s very likely to be more disasters in the coming year and that they could be on an even larger scale. Worst of all, it’s ordinary people who’ll continue to bear the brunt when things go wrong.”

“Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support services in DHS are a prime example. 5,000 permanent staff have been cut in that agency and 36 million calls went unanswered last year and yet this Budget cuts over 1100 jobs in DHS. It's a massive cut and a disaster for our community.”  

“To add insult to injury, the only thing offsetting that massive cut is Government outsourcing DHS work to the private sector, with a pilot program that creates 250 jobs in an unnamed provider. There’s no way that will fix an agency in crisis.”

“The idea that trusting the highly sensitive needs and information handled by DHS staff to a privatised operation offsite is scary to say the least. We're concerned this might be the first step in a plan to outsource these services. Do we want  private call centres, perhaps even based overseas, providing such vital services?” 

“Strong lobbying by the CPSU has helped secure a much more sensible outcome in Defence, though it's still a long way short of all that's needed. Government has sensibly followed our advice to clamp down on wasteful and expensive consultants and contractors and will use some of the $304 million saved to hire a much needed 620 new staff. It doesn't restore all the jobs cut by this Government, with 1,400 positions cut just in the past year, but it's a good start.”

“We support Government funding of physical infrastructure if it’s for sensible projects that provide tangible benefits. But it’s also as least as important for the Government to invest in people, with public services that support people to contribute to and share in Australia’s prosperity. We're also concerned the hollowing out of policy capacity means the Government won't be able to get decent advice on the projects worthy of funding.”

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