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Concern about Commission of Audit

THE Federal Government announced a Commission of Audit to review the scope, size, efficiency and functions of the Commonwealth government.

This audit involves looking at areas of duplication in levels of government and may impact directly on the Tasmanian State Service.

Previously a Commission of Audit was used to support major cuts to public services as well as outsourcing.

The Federal CPSU branch, the PSU are particularly concerned about this Commission of Audit.

The PSU provided the following information to their Member:

 

The panel:

The audit panel will be based in the Finance Department in Canberra and may invite submissions, consult key stakeholders and seek information from persons or bodies. Its members include:

  • Tony Shepherd – chairman      of Transfield Services and president of Business Council of      Australia (BCA)
  • Peter Boxall – former federal department      secretary and outsourcing advocate
  • Amanda      Vanstone – former Howard government cabinet minister
  • Tony Cole – investment consultant and      former Treasury secretary
  • Robert Fisher – former West Australian      department head
  • Peter Crone – the BCA’s chief economist and former adviser John Howard      and Jeff Kennett will also be involved

Timeline:

 

Initial report is due by the end of January and the final report is due by the end of March and will be made public in the Budget in May.

CPSU (PSU) view

The CPSU has called on the Abbott Government to ensure the Commission of Audit process will not be used as a cover to pursue an ideological agenda of cuts, privatisation and outsourcing.

With speculation about job cuts and reduced services to flow from the audit, CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said the Government should make sure there is not a pre-determined outcome.

“If history is anything to go by, these audits simply become a shopping list for razor gangs,” Ms Flood said. “To maintain trust with the community the Government must ensure the process is open, transparent and evidence-based,”

According to the CPSU to be credible the Commission of audit should:

  • acknowledge the value of public services
  • ensure communities do not lose access to      quality jobs and services, particularly in regional Australia
  • recognise the good return on investment the      public sector currently provides for taxpayers
  • work with staff, clients, business and the      community to investigate new ways to improve services
  • acknowledge existing community concerns around      privatisation, and the outsourcing or offshoring of jobs.

While Mr Abbott clearly has a mandate to conduct a Commission of Audit, he does not have a mandate to introduce the large scale cuts to job and services that followed similar exercises in Queensland, Victoria and other Liberal state governments,” Ms Flood said.

“The community wants government to provide high quality and effective services. That’s not the same thing as cutting jobs, defunding services and handing out lucrative service delivery contracts to a handful of multinational corporations.”

The union has expressed concern over the tight deadline and pro-big business makeup of the panel. “Mr Hockey is calling this a once in a generation opportunity to review all of government spending but he wants to hear back from the panel by the end of January. That risks a quick and dirty shopping list of cuts that hit jobs and services communities rely on.

“The Business Council of Australia represents the interests of big business not the average Australian. Their members are the CEO’s of Australia’s 100 biggest companies and that is who they speak for.

“The BCA’s agenda of paring back government and handing services over to the private sector is very clear; what’s less clear is whether they can put their ideology aside and deliver a fair and transparent audit of the role of Government, spending priorities and community needs,” said Ms Flood.

“With no voices for community or union representatives in this Commission, it’s hard to see how the interests of the millions of Australians who rely on Government services will be heard.”

“Despite the spin being pushed by some, public services aren’t driving debt. In fact they’ve already delivered billions in savings. The biggest growth in government spending is on health, infrastructure and pensions. Slashing public services won’t fix that.”

“The Coalition made an election commitment that their cut of 12,000 public service jobs would be it. If the Commission of Audit produces deeper cuts, that goes beyond their mandate,” said Ms Flood.

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