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Early cuts a worrying sign

THE FORECAST is bleak for Tasmania’s jobs and economic outlook.

Departments across our public sector have seen the writing on the wall and have moved to cut jobs in preparation, with the State Budget less than a fortnight away.

In just in the last few weeks we’ve seen:

• A workforce halved at TMAG and heard rumors of big cuts in Heritage Tasmania

• The announcement of a massive overhaul to a change-fatigued Health system that will see significant job losses

• Notice of an audit through swathes of Police and Emergency Management, including TasFire, that will throw even more workers on the scrap heap

• Non-renewal of contracts that will see the Court Mandated Diversion programs run by Community Corrections in the North and North West severely compromised in their ability to give the judiciary realistic, non-custodial options that help offenders make better choices.

• An unknown number of jobs set to go in the Department of State Growth after the amalgamation of nearly all DIER and DEDTA

These are just some early examples of what’s likely to be a devastating budget for thousands of workers and their families, flowing on to the entire community. In the next few weeks we’ll see more frequent and concerted attacks on every element of the service. Those who don’t lose their jobs will be faced with demands to provide the same service with fewer resources. It looks like the cycle we’ve seen before – cut hard, pay a lot of money, services fail due to under-resourcing, rehire staff – it’s an expensive churn.

The state service isn’t a widget factory, it provides services to all Tasmanians from before birth to after death. You can’t just slow the production line when you cut staff because the same demand is there for government services, and failure to supply these can be devastating to individuals and our community. A government that makes blind cuts creates unmet need and that hurts Tasmanians.

The 1500FTE the government wants to cut from the service equates to around 2300 working people when you include part-time employment figures. This is 2300 families with lost incomes, 2300 sets of skills and experience that are no longer providing services to Tasmanians. We still don’t know where cuts will come from and what’ll be left once they’re gone.

The effect on Tasmania’s economy will be one of suppression and negativity as workers cut back on discretionary spending. It’s happened as a result of austerity imposed by governments of all shapes and sizes around the world, and it will happen here. Job and income insecurity will pummel consumer confidence and send shock waves through the entire state.

This government is throwing the incomes and job security of thousands of Tasmanian families on the scrap heap in its blinkered rush to gut the services Tasmanians take for granted.


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