Treasurer keeping mum on job cuts

Peter Gutwein

Peter Gutwein

TREASURER Peter Gutwein is remaining tight lipped on the total number of public sector jobs that will face the chop in Thursday’s state budget.

Mr Gutwein yesterday announced funds would be made available in the budget for a new mining inspector, following an audit into mine safety by Professor Michael Quinlan.

‘‘It’s very important we send a message that we back the mining industry,’’ Mr Gutwein said.

He said WorkSafe Tasmania had been instructed to establish a Mine Safety Steering Committee to review the state’s mine safety laws.

But when it came to public sector jobs, an international shipping link and road infrastructure, the Treasurer remained tight lipped.

He said he was ‘‘pleasantly surprised’’ by expressions of interest received from companies interested in operating an international shipping link out of the state.

‘‘You’ll have to wait until Thursday,’’ Mr Gutwein said.

‘‘We made it perfectly clear that in relation to all of our commitments they would be funded in this budget,’’ he said.

The Liberals promised to cut 500 public sector positions over two years before the election, but in June revealed savings equivalent to 1000 extra job cuts would have to be found because the budget bottom line was worse than first thought.

‘‘The wage freeze will save 500 of those jobs, and we’ve been working very hard to save as many of the others as we possibly can,’’ he said.

‘‘Any job losses that occur are on Labor and the Greens’ heads, not ours,’’ he said.

Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch said he expected a ‘‘slash-and-burn’’ budget.

Mr Lynch said he assumed the budget would include 1500 public sector job losses, affecting about 2000 people.

‘‘But we’re preparing for worse than that,’’ he said.

Greens treasury spokesman Kim Booth said it ‘‘defied belief’’ that Mr Gutwein did not know the exact number of public sector jobs in the firing line.

‘‘Leaving the axe hanging over potentially 1500 public sector jobs in callous and reprehensible,’’ Mr Booth said.

As state Parliament returns today, Labor is preparing to use further Right to Information requests during question time.

‘‘The government has clearly shown that they are unwilling to answer even the most basic questions in question time,’’ a Labor spokesman said.

‘‘That is why Labor has had to resort to using Right to Information requests to illicit information that the Liberals clearly don’t want the community to know about,’’ he said.

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