Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
Last week in here, we confirmed the cuts to the Child Safety Service via a message from senior managers to case workers to trim expenditure.
Today, an internal Parks and Wildlife Service newsletter from Parks and Wildlife Deputy Secretary Jason Jacobi to staff says -
The executive and I are looking closely at all options available to us to trim our cloth, to reduce expenditure, and to leverage stimulus funding wherever we can.
The message to staff confirms a revenue shortfall and plans to minimise expenditure across all aspects of the Parks and Wildlife Service. Can you confirm these cuts to Parks funding?
This, along with the cuts to Child Safety, seems like confirmation that a slash-and-burn program is underway across the public sector. Child Safety, Parks and Wildlife - what is next for the public sector, and particularly in departments that were already close to the bone before COVID-19?
Will you rule out public sector job cuts in a time of pandemic?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Clark and Leader of the Greens for that question.
I will be clear about this. On the subject of cuts to the public sector, now is not the time to cut the public sector. I reject, out of hand, the statement you just made, that last week it was confirmed in this place that there were cuts to child protection. That was not confirmed.
Regarding Mr Jacobi's newsletter to staff, I have not seen that. I am pleased that he is focused on stimulus, to be frank, because that tells me it is about investing in our parks and improving our facilities for Tasmanians, and those who will once again come back to Tasmania to visit.
This will be a challenging period for the state. We have been transparent about the budget position, and the fact that we face a circumstance of significant deficits. But as I said, this is not the time to cut the public sector. Every job is valuable. Every job in our community will assist our broader economy - and importantly, we came into this pandemic from a position of strength. Our balance sheet was the strongest in the country. The point should be made that as at 30 June, we were the only state or territory jurisdiction in the country that still held net cash in investments -
Mr O'Byrne - For how long?
Mr GUTWEIN - I hear the financial wizard on the other side asking, 'For how long?'. The bottom line is that we have put in place record levels of stimulus. In terms of what other states and territories are doing, we are doing more with regard to our percentage of gross state product than anywhere else in the country. We have rolled out a $3.1 billion construction package of support, to get $3.1 billion worth of construction underway in the next two years. We have brought forward our own infrastructure spending to where we now have record levels of just under $2 billion over the next two years.
We know that we have to stimulate our economy, and importantly, regarding the work the public sector does, there are no cuts forecast for the public sector. Right now, every job is valuable in our economy. We need to be sensible and nimble as we move forward. We will need to invest where we can get best value for the dollars we spend. We will rebuild our economy, and we will rebuild Tasmania - and it would be useful if we could get a little bit of assistance from the other side every now and again.