Public service `safe' under Labor promise

A LABOR plan to find $165 million in additional budget savings has been rejected as too little, too late by the Liberals.

Premier Lara Giddings announced yesterday that Labor would not cut jobs to improve the budget, but instead find other savings.

This contrasted to Liberal Treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein confirming yesterday that 500 full-time equivalent positions would go from the public service through natural attrition over two years.

Ms Giddings said her savings, totalling $165 million, would come from reduced travel and communications spending plus reduced use of consultancies.

An ITC fund would also be reduced, the Treasurer's Reserve for additional spending not appropriated by Parliament would be halved to $10 million a year, some unallocated infrastructure funding would become savings and MAIB dividends would be increased.

But Mr Gutwein said some of these ideas were suggested by the Liberals a year ago, so should already be in place, and Labor was not to be trusted with money.

"Why hasn't she found these savings before, (instead of) two weeks out from an election," Mr Gutwein asked.

"The Premier is a fiscal incompetent and you simply cannot trust Labor with money."

He said the budget would be $100 million better off under the Liberals.

But he said the budget under Labor was set to generate $900 million in red ink across the forward estimates.

Ms Giddings said Labor had demonstrated prudent spending restraint throughout the election campaign.

She said the Liberals had already racked up $378 million in spending promises and had been unable to explain how it would achieve its savings.

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