Sparks fly over public disservice claims

 

Labor has accused the LNP of having a secret plan to slash the public service despite previously promising to also cut down Queensland's bloated bureaucracy to save billions of dollars.

As both leaders unveiled different plans to reduce electricity costs for business on day two of the campaign, Treasurer Cameron Dick evoked the ghost of Campbell Newman, claiming the LNP would go after public servant numbers by not replacing those who retired or quit.

He claimed that would see teachers, nurses, doctors and police not replaced when they leave.

But LNP Leader Deb Frecklington hit back, ruling out job losses through forced or voluntary redundancies and natural attrition.

Mr Dick seized on a television interview in which he said Ms Frecklington had "five times … refused to rule out using natural attrition as a way to make savings to fund their election commitments and to deliver a surplus".

 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during a visit to the Glencore Copper Smelter in Mount Isa. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during a visit to the Glencore Copper Smelter in Mount Isa. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

 

But Mr Dick's own $3 billion savings plan over the next four years includes plans to not replace senior executives who leave, slash the use of external consultants and contractors employed in the public service and to instate a hiring freeze on non-frontline jobs.

Asked yesterday whether his own savings plans contained natural attrition, he said: "No, what we'll see is a capping of non-frontline staff, which means people will be replaced as they leave the public service but we won't be growing the non-frontline."

"We will be keeping the frontline at the current rate it is (increasing by population growth) but when people leave the public service they will be replaced."

However, he announced a hiring freeze for non-frontline staff on July 9 when announcing the $3 billion savings plan.

"For any non-frontline vacancies that occur in departments, they will have to recruit internally," he said at the time.

"Our focus will be on the frontline.

"To reduce the number of highly-paid public servants, some roles will not be filled when they are vacated as we reduce the number of senior executive service positions.

" … Roles being performed by external consultants or contractors will be reviewed and where possible they will be wound up."

 

Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington at Brisbane-based steel fabrication company Watkins Steel. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall
Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington at Brisbane-based steel fabrication company Watkins Steel. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall

 

The government had already made about $320 million in savings since July to September, including $2.6 million from losing 13 state executive positions through natural attrition.

Treasury had also cut about a third - totalling 43 - of its contractors from May to August.

Ms Frecklington said she would grow frontline jobs like teachers, doctors, nurses and police as she quashed claims of job cuts.

"Labor have already adopted that measure (natural attrition) in relation to the non-key frontline services and also the Labor Party have also initiated a voluntary redundancy program.

"I can rule out that and I can rule out forced redundancies."

The stoush came as both leaders unveiled different plans to reduced electricity costs for business at either end of the state.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was west in Mt Isa - in the state's safest seat held by Katter's Australia Party leader Robbie Katter - before jetting into Townsville, where Labor needs to retain three marginal seats.

Announcing an agreement to underwrite the $1.8 billion Copperstring project, which aims to eventually deliver cheaper power for new mines in the state's northwest minerals province, she said the move would also create more manufacturing jobs across the state.

Ms Palaszczuk denied the visit was about "buttering up" the key crossbencher and project advocate, who commands three of the seven crossbench seats that would be vital to a minority government.

Meeting with workers at the Glencore Copper smelter, the Premier reminisced over a tour of the mine 20 years ago as she continued hammering home her message around valuing mining jobs.

 

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

 

"It was something that I'll never forget for my whole lifetime," she said.

"I went down a mile, it was a three-hour tour underground and it really opened my eyes about the tough work that people in Queensland do.

"And I value every single job that Queenslanders do."

Ms Frecklington was in the southeast for the second day in a row before flying north to Cairns, where it hopes to pick up seats like Barron River.

At Watkins Steel in the safe north Brisbane Labor seat of Nudgee, she announced a $493 million plan to help 16,000 manufacturing businesses by slashing electricity bills by about 20 per cent over four years.

Under the proposal, a $493 million Community Service Obligation would be provided to government-owned corporation Energy Queensland, with Ms Frecklington assuring those 7300 associated public servants that their jobs were secure.

The CSO will remove the need to charge manufacturing businesses a rate of return on energy provided through the distribution networks, but the costing of the policy has not yet been released.

Ms Frecklington said she wanted to drag Queensland out of recession started with supercharging the manufacturing industry.

"This is about securing the 163,000 Queenslanders right now who work in manufacturing," she said.

"But it is also about growing the manufacturing industry by 20,000 jobs."

Originally published as Sparks fly over public disservice claims



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