Campbell Newman says he does not believe the removal of 20,000 public servants would affect services.
Stressing the need to reshape the public service, the Queensland Premier argued the private sector had found ways to “deliver more with less” during an interview with brisbanetimes苏州美甲培训学校.au to mark the 100th day since the Liberal National Party’s election landslide victory.
Mr Newman said the period since the election had seen the fulfilment of election pledges, including Sunday’s axing of the waste levy and the reinstatement of a discount of about $7000 for property owners who buy another home.
However, the last few months have also brought upheaval in the public sector with the non-renewal of a raft of temporary contracts and decisions not to replace workers who left the service.
In recent weeks, Mr Newman has used a report by a Peter Costello-led audit team to paint a gloomy picture of the state’s finances and argued the state currently employed 20,000 more public servants than it could afford.
Unions have been increasingly active, arguing that job cuts would harm services.
Asked whether he accepted there was no way to remove 20,000 public servants without affecting services in some way, Mr Newman rejected the assertion.
“Sorry, I don’t accept that,” he told brisbanetimes苏州美甲培训学校.au.
“I believe that we need to, in a very careful way, restructure the public service to ensure that it is efficient and that it delivers for Queenslanders.”
Mr Newman said private companies around the nation and world, in the face of challenges and competition, had identified how they could “deliver more with less”.
“I mean, for example, airfares today are in real terms cheaper than they were 10 years ago, 20 years, 30 years ago, and yet levels of service are very good,” he said.
“You can catch flights, airlines run on time, they’re safe. Similarly in terms of electronic goods, they’re cheaper today than they were in real terms 10, 20, 30 years ago.
“Why does the public service think that it shouldn’t change?
“What we need to do is find new, cutting-edge ways to deliver services and to cut down on waste and inefficiency, in particular in the back office.”
As departments have been working their way through cuts, unions have questioned the definition of frontline services, amid pledges by the government to protect frontline workers.
Mr Newman said a frontline public servant was someone who was “directly delivering for the community” including nurses, doctors, firefighters, police officers, social workers and school cleaners.
He said he had ordered ministers and directors-general to start looking for cuts in head office.
“We’re starting by saying if you’re going to sort of look at where you shed jobs, you shed them within a few hundred metres of where you as the minister work,” he said.
Mr Newman made the comments in an interview recorded on Thursday ahead of today’s 100-day milestone.
On at least three occasions in the lead up to the election, Mr Newman vowed not to use the financial commission of audit as an excuse to walk away from election promises.
The LNP pledged no forced retrenchments in the permanent public sector, but Mr Newman last week would not say if he regarded that as one of his promises he would not abandon.
“Look, I’m going to work very hard to save jobs, that’s all I can say at the moment,” he said.
Mr Newman said the government had already made it clear it could not protect people on temporary contracts and casuals, but was concerned about ensuring permanent public servants had job security.
However, he said the government had a “massive problem” not of its creation and he did not want to put up taxes or borrow more.
He said he would do everything he could not to retrench people, but this would be made harder if unions pushed for above-inflation wage increases.
Mr Newman has previously used the audit commission report to argue the government was living beyond its means.
The audit report notes that employee expenses jumped by 40 per cent between 2005/06 and 2007/08. Much of this went towards things like child safety services, transport infrastructure, hospital beds, better wages and conditions for health staff, and the prep year introduction.
Mr Newman said there was no dispute that more money had gone into certain areas, but insisted there had not necessarily been improvements to service delivery.
“We’re not efficient,” he said.
“Let’s look at one example; police officers are provided with houses in rural and regional Queensland, so are firefighters, ambulance officers, people in the health area.
“Each of those departments have their own units that run those houses, and we’ve seen situations where for example you’ve got empty houses for one department, and another department not having enough space in some of these regional towns and having to go and rent properties on the private market. That’s not efficiency.”
Mr Newman said he believed the LNP’s first 100 days had “gone pretty well”, but would not say if he had lived up to his pre-election comments that it would be “the most exciting, energetic period of change” Queenslanders had seen in decades.
The former Brisbane lord mayor said the job was “not particularly” more difficult than he had thought, but argued the Brisbane City Council processes were much more efficient than state government ones in numerous areas, including when it came to booking a flight or hiring a consultant.
“It [the state government] is a bigger organisation; it’s more complex; it has its own particular ways of doing business but frankly the BCC could teach them a lot down here,” he said of the differences between the two levels of government.
MPs from both sides of politics have privately argued the LNP can be assured of at least two terms in government, given the LNP currently holds 78 seats to Labor’s seven in the wake of the crushing result in the March 2012 election.
But Mr Newman dismissed such suggestions as “outrageous” and the musings of “the same old political insiders” that Queenslanders were sick of.
He said he did not take people for granted.
Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday released a Labor document that argued the first 100 days had been full of broken promises.
It accused the LNP of talking down the economy and pursuing a jobs “purge” based on a politically motivated audit report.
Ms Palaszczuk, in an interview with brisbanetimes苏州美甲培训学校.au published last week, defended the previous government’s budget and debt strategy and argued the LNP government had created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the public service.
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