New South Wales Labor government starves public sector of funds

After spending a record $11million on their successful reelection campaign last year, the Carr Labor Government in NSW is becoming increasingly on the nose as the truth about our hospitals and rail services, starved of the adequate funds, staff and capable management they so desperately need, continues to emerge.

And it’s not just the hospitals and rail system that are in crisis. Most of the public sector, to one degree or another, is suffering similar problems (although thankfully not yet the deaths) away from the glare of media publicity.

Departmental directors are reportedly being offered outrageous personal ‘bonuses’ of around $150,000 if they can bring their departments in on or under budget. They seem to be having some difficulty remembering their roles are supposedly to ensure the delivery of decent Public Services to the public, rather than lining their own pockets by undermining those very services.

This amount of money could be spent on hiring more staff or providing training which could go some way to actually providing a real ‘public service’. It seems in all areas, the emphasis (and the bucks) is still on being ‘seen’ to be doing the right thing, rather than actually doing it – lots of glossy brochures/posters but heaven forbid having the trained staff able to actually help the public.

Morale is low and anger is growing amongst harassed Public Service Association (PSA) members for whom ‘skeleton’ staffing is now the norm and who are the ones to cop the brunt from frustrated members of the public. Meanwhile the cuts and relocations of staff continues. Industrial action is being discussed in more than one area with some delegates proposing that if the PSA is too linked to Labor to support, let alone organise, members calls for action, then we organise ourselves without them. (The bitter irony being that the PSA is not even affiliated to the ALP – in true ALP style the links are all behind the scenes.)

The way things are going, 2004 may well be the ‘Year of the Blue’ in the NSW public sector and the PSA.

From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, cwi in Australia

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