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Cuts continue to Tasmania’s public services

Cuts continue. That’s the take home from the 2015-16 budget. Savings targets dished out to agency heads last year are still in place. And still, there’s no direction about how these savings should be made.
In this year’s budget, the table detailing savings strategies for each agency wasn’t there. It was replaced with the following line: “While the 2015-16 Budget does not include any new savings requirements, it is essential that 2014-15 Budget Savings Strategies continue to be implemented by agencies.”
Embedded in the forward estimates there’s $593 million in cuts over the next three years. This means cuts to public services are continuing, despite niche infrastructure and pet project spends.

The budget is littered with new infrastructure projects, which are always welcome, but it failed to mention what staff and resources were needed to operate them.
There is a surplus, largely due to redistribution of GST, but this isn’t going back into essential services to help those who need it.
Also, the forecasts for unemployment and labour force participation are at odds with the 8000 promised jobs.
Other than these headline announcements, there is scant detail in the budget papers.
For example, while the budget papers mention $100m additional funding for frontline health, there is no information about how this money will be spent – the Minister couldn’t even answer this yesterday when we asked directly.  In truth the government is still cutting health by $100 million, when you look at the savings strategies over the forward estimates.
Another case is biosecurity. Yes, there’s new signage, systems and extra sniffer dog teams but there’s $3 million more to cut from this area.
In TasTAFE there’s less revenue forecast based on “activity levels”, which comes after 97FTEs were cuts in the six months to January this year.
For our Libraries, LINCs, there are no changes to the savings, even though there’s now a higher target of visits to both sites and online for 2015-16.
There’s no mention of Wednesday’s revelation that the government had made an in-principle recommendation of outsourcing Traffic Signals Maintenance, which would impact on 13 employees in State Growth.
In Police and Emergency management, although there’s money for taskforces, uniformed officers and a second police vessel, the agency still has to find $33m in other savings across the forward estimates.
In short, essential frontline services: child protection, road safety, parks, work safety, courts, mental health, radio rooms and many more are all faced with the same targets hanging over them as the 2014-15 budget.
 In the coming days and weeks we’ll continue to scrutinise the budget papers.
Your CPSU will continue to ensure change happens after consultation with unions and members, which is required under the Tasmanian State Service Award. We’ll continue to advocate on the behalf of Members who receive unfair treatment under the continuing savings regime. We’ll also continue to highlight service failures resulting from reduced staff and resources under the cuts, and to call for investment in essential services for Tasmanians.
Remember, the CPSU is here to help on wider workplace issues, and to help individuals during this time. Organisers and Delegates are there for larger group issues and our Member Advice and Support Team is there to help Members with their individual issues. 
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