Regional Australia looks set to bear a heavy price in the latest Centrelink job cuts.
30 jobs are to be targeted for cuts from the Illawarra at this stage, as the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government’s continues to drive jobs out of Centrelink.
The only winners of the cuts push appears to be contracted labour hire firms, who look set to gain more work.
The news of these cuts demonstrates that the Coalition’s commitment to regional jobs isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.
This shows that the new Minister for Decentralisation has failed in her first step.
Instead of delivering jobs to regional Australia, we are seeing less.
You can’t lecture the private sector on creating regional jobs if you are cutting your own.
And make no mistake: these latest cuts will be felt painfully by the community in the Illawarra.
They will be felt by workers directly affected by the Coalition’s decision, along with members of the public who will brace themselves for an impact on Centrelink services.
The cuts target debt recovery sections of Centrelink - the last line of defence against a robo-debt scheme that’s been found to push out error-ridden debt notices.
These Centrelink workers will not be able to intervene in the future to correct wrongly issued notices.
Many of those departing workers will take with them extensive experience in this area, likely to be replaced by privately engaged - and less experienced - labour hire staff.
It’s also concerning that the union covering these workers had to chase Centrelink to find out about the scale of these cuts and the number of staff affected.
Labor understands the importance of both supporting regional jobs and delivering stronger service to Australians via Centrelink.
Labor has already announced its plan for an additional 1,200 Department of Human Services jobs which will help improve Centrelink services in regional areas under a Shorten Labor Government.
This stands in stark contrast to the Coalition - whose only approach seems to be less jobs, poorer service in Centrelink.