The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison's speech to the Institute of Public Administration Australia on August 19 in which he outlined his "vision" for the future of the Australian Public Service (APS).
In his speech, Morrison said the public service is meant to be an enabler of government policy, not an obstacle, and that it needs to be more open to outsiders.
While welcoming the PM's wish to improve service delivery, the union said these aims are “at odds with the ideological cuts to the public service this government has implemented”.
CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said on August 19: "All our members want to make our services better for Australians. However, there are some things in the Prime Minister’s speech that don’t match the government’s own policy settings.”
There is deep concern among public servants that Morrison's reference to the APS being “more open to outsiders” and harnessing the knowledge of “external partners” is merely code for even greater outsourcing, privatisation and staff cuts.
Flood said: “You can’t have an ideological commitment to privatisation, outsourcing, job cuts and shrinking the public service while expecting good advice, good services and enforcement of rules like those that protect us from predatory banks.
“The service delivery failures facing many Australians — people waiting for [National Disability Insurance Scheme] plans, people whose farms were devastated by imported pests, people caught up in [Centrelink] Robodebt — were caused by staff cuts.
“It is the role of government to set the policy agenda then equip the public service to carry it out. We can’t do the first without the second.
“You can’t have it both ways: fewer staff means less work gets done."
A further stage in the government's attack on the public service is likely to be reached when a 12-month review into the APS, headed by former Telstra CEO David Thodey, is released later this year.