Out you go … NSW Treasurer Mike Baird. Photo: Nick Moir
A CONFIDENTIAL Treasury memo reveals there is no cap on the number of public sector redundancies in NSW, paving the way for job cuts extending beyond the 10,000 announced in the state budget.
An internal email from a NSW Treasury official dated June 12, obtained by the Herald, says ”there is no floor or cap on redundancies” and government departments should look to privatising more services.
While school teachers, nurses and police have been quarantined, the memo makes it clear there are no limits on the removal of other front-line workers. People delivering child protection and disability services, national parks officers, firefighters, paramedics, teachers aides and TAFE teachers will be among the many exposed to job cuts.Advertisement: Story continues below
The email, from a Treasury official in charge of wages to the office of the Treasurer, Mike Baird, says the figure of up to 10,000 redundancies announced in the state budget was only an ”indicative figure” that ”shows the extent of the cut should every Director General choose only the redundancy option”.
”In reality, it is expected that Directors General will choose a variety of options to suit service delivery needs,” the email says.
The Treasurer announced an annual 1.2 per cent ”labour expense cap” over four years on every government department in the budget last month.
The Treasury email says the cap provides an ”opportunity to directors general to evaluate the role of government in service delivery and the services provided, whether the private sector is best placed to deliver those services or how they can be provided more efficiently”.
The Opposition Leader, John Robertson, said the Treasury email confirms there is no cap on redundancies and no protection for front-line workers.
”That means paramedics, firefighters, child protection workers, teachers’ aides and physiotherapists are among the thousands of workers that could be sacked,” he said.
”It’s time for the Premier [Barry O’Farrell] to come clean about the real impact these job cuts will have on public services. No protection for front-line workers will mean cuts to frontline services.”
The 10,000 job cuts over four years announced in the budget are on top of 5000 redundancies announced in September.
The Treasury email says there is likely to be some forced redundancies, but ”voluntary redundancy, rather than forced retrenchment will be preferred” where staffing reductions are an option.
It says the employee expense reduction has been applied evenly across all agencies.
”The larger the employee expenses budget, the larger the reduction. Excluding election commitments, all agencies have been treated the same.”
The assistant general secretary of the Public Service Association, Steve Turner, said the loss of park rangers, support staff in schools and other public service providers would affect the delivery of front-line services.
”What the government isn’t realising is that there is a gamut of front-line services that are delivered by a range of staff that will be cut,” he said, ”whether it is the provision of disability services, homecare for the elderly, child protection services or talking to farming communities about their land, looking after marine parks, fisheries and waterways.”
Mr Turner said the loss of administration and support staff would directly affect teachers, police and nurses.
Mr Baird said the government had been upfront about its ”difficult and unpopular” decisions, including job losses, for the purpose of funding critical infrastructure. He said the government wanted to give department heads as much flexibility as possible to ”achieve the savings in the most appropriate way to maintain their services”.
“For too long, NSW has lived beyond its means and this government has put an end to that reckless approach,” he said. ”We will continue to identify areas of government where the private sector could provide those services in a better and more efficient way.”