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Can Tasmania really afford cuts to its services?

“We are ensuring that we have a public sector that Tasmania can afford to provide the services Tasmanians need.”
That’s what Treasurer Peter Gutwein said in a media release last week announcing that there’d been 766 FTEs cut from the public sector so far this financial year.
Can we really afford to do without decent services?
Cuts mean much more than dollars saved. They mean fewer beds. They mean fewer Inspectors to ensure workplaces are safe. They mean stretched Quarantine services to patrol our airports and ports. We don’t need to tell you what they mean, as many of you would know what’s gone and what’s left to work with if you’re employed in the public sector.
Yesterday a letter to the editor in the Examiner talked about what cuts meant to them as a Service Tasmania Customer. On the same day in an Advocate article a local government alderman asked for the health reforms not to come at the cost of services.
These are just two examples. The public is noticing the impact of cuts, and sure enough, examples like these will keep on coming.
The 766 FTEs are nothing for the government to gloat over. There’s a conspicuous lack of planning in its savings agenda. There’s no strategy to assess and ensure cuts are being made in the best areas. Last year the CPSU on behalf of Members asked Premier Will Hodgman to undertake a root and branch review of the public sector to ensure savings were part of a long term strategy. This never happened.

So what are the cuts in sheer number terms?
Mr Gutwein announced that at the end of March, so far for this financial year there’s been:

• 287 FTEs cut in Education
• 221FTEs cut in Health and Human Services and the Tasmanian Health Organisations
• 142 FTEs cut in other agencies
• 116 FTEs cut from State Growth
On Thursday last week Mr Gutwein announced “The heavy lifting has been done and there will be no new structural savings in the 2015-16 Budget”. Don’t be deceived. There is $593m worth of cuts still to come in the next three years.

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