Speech - Constituency Statement (Public Service EBA Negotiations)







Thank you Deputy Speaker, 

In recent weeks I've spoken to dozens of public servants across the northern suburbs of Brisbane and they are absolutely dismayed by the attacks on their living standards and rights at work by the Commonwealth Government. They've demonstrated yet again their contempt for working people, I notice the smiles across the aisle, they have no respect for those who work in the public sector whatsoever or the contribution that they make to living standards and to the wealth of our country. Now since these people opposite came to government they've sacked something like one in ten  public sector workers. And those that are remaining have suffered real wage decreases while watching their jobs become increasingly casualised and fearing the ultimate goal being the outsourcing or privatisation of their employment opportunities. 

At no stage has there been any genuine consultation with their own work force. Orwellian language such as jobs being ‘reimagined’ or ‘refreshed’ are simply a substitute for people simply being shafted.

If you’re an executive in the Australian Public Service you've had a real pay increase, if you’re on average weekly earnings where the majority are in the public sector, you've received a real pay decrease. Those in the Department of Human Services – covering Medicare, Centrelink and child support – have had a particularly tough time. This has resulted in reduced staff numbers in service centres and on the phone lines which has lead to increased waiting times for many increasingly distressed Australians. 

But it is not just those who are in immediate distress, we are also talking about doctors who are waiting for prescription authorisations, we are talking about Medicare rebates for the ill and infirm who are waiting up to a month for complex claims to be paid.  We are talking about new claims for Age Pensioners which are months behind, and we are talking about pharmacy PBS claims.

So there are literally over tens of thousands of Australian's who are waiting and waiting and waiting on phone lines and waiting for much needed assistance.

Over 100,000 Australian government workers are now in their sixth year of what was supposed to be a three year collective bargaining agreement. They are committed public servants, they support families - they've done so without a pay rise for three years and they're struggling to hold on to the basic workplace rights and conditions that other Australian's sometimes take for granted. Particularly family friendly rights that give some hope of balancing work and family.

So what have they been offered by the government? Two percent plus ripping away at the same time all of their basic rights and conditions. They're up for a fair dinkum deal but a fair dinkum deal is not being offered. What is actually being offered is a decrease in their conditions.