Tasmanian Labor MPs call for Human Services and Tax Office jobs relocations



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photo Neil Richardson 6/7/16 Bill Shorten in Launceston to congratulate Ross Hart for winning Bass . News. 25th March 2015. MHR Gai Brodtmann wearing a Parliament House insipired dress.The Canberra TimesPhoto Jamila Toderas

Tasmania’s federal Labor MPs have called on the Turnbull government to relocate more Tax Office and Human Services Department jobs to the state, but only after consultation with existing public service employees.

In a submission to an inquiry considering plans for government decentralisation, opposition MPs Ross Hart, Justine Keay, Julie Collins and Brian Mitchell said the Human Services Department should increase its presence in Tasmania and the ATO could broaden its workload in the north-west city of Burnie.

The group – which includes representatives of the marginal seats of Bass, Braddon and Lyons – said a boost in jobs in Burnie would require additional office space in the central business district and help improve the local unemployment rate.

Currently about 2.3 per cent of federal public service jobs are based in Tasmania, lower than every jurisdiction except for the Northern Territory at 1.4 per cent.

About 57,500 public service jobs are based in Canberra, 37.9 per cent of the entire federal workforce.

The MPs told the committee relocation of federal agencies from Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne might be welcome in Tasmania but would not effective redress the loss of hundreds of jobs from Human Services, the ATO, CSIRO and the n Antarctic Division since the Coalition’s election in 2013.

“Instead the government would be better to focus the continuing diversification of the regional economic and employment base in Tasmania,” they said.

“Tasmania’s economy is unsurprisingly very dependent on the public sector.

“Compared with other states, Tasmania is heavily reliant on GST revenue due to a lower capacity to raise revenue, necessarily higher demand for government services and the greater cost of delivering those services.

“No change should be made until there has been full and proper consultation with employees and their representatives,” the group said.

Canberra MP Gai Brodtmann used a submission to lash Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and the government over the forced relocation of the n Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, and to call for future forced relocation to be completed after cost-benefit analyses which are made public.

She said the government should commit to open and transparent public consultation processes and only relocate government agencies based on a demonstrated net benefit to the nation.

“The Turnbull government’s thought bubble policy is the beginning of one of the saddest chapters in n government history or a pathetic attempt to cloak the disaster of the APVMA relocation in a broader “policy”,” Ms Brodtmann told the committee.

The Victorian city of Wangaratta has told the inquiry it could host the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Civic and business leaders in the Victorian goldfields city of Ballarat said “full complements” of staff should be allocated to existing federal government offices, including Centrelink, Medicare and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Cabinet is expected to consider business cases for forced relocations before the end of the year.

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