SEVERE cuts to public sector workers is the result of the “financial mess” left by the previous State Government, according to a local member of parliament.
The recent announcement has ignited a mud slinging match between the Liberal and Labour parties, but the government remains adamant the cuts were “necessary”.
Opposition leader Daniel Andrews said Gippsland would “bear the brunt” of the government’s savage job cuts.
“Regional towns such as Gippsland will be hardest hit by these 4200 public sector job cuts; these are real people and real families that are being devastated by this government,” he said.
Mr Andrews said the region was already under significant economic and employment pressure and the cuts would exacerbate financial pressures on families.
However, State Member for Morwell Russell Northe blamed the previous government’s “financial mismanagement” for the cuts and said Mr Andrews comments were “hypocritical”.
“We have been left with a significant legacy by predecessors and we have had to make some extremely difficult decisions,” Mr Northe said.
“The fact is, things need to change in Victoria for the sake of our future economy.”
He argued the recent reports which showed dwindling support for the government were reflective of “very difficult decisions, that are not popular but in reality I believe they are necessary”.
Despite believing the recent cuts were needed, Mr Northe said he was “personally torn” with his party’s decisions.
“I see the necessity from a financial situation and a responsibility to the tax payers as well, in that government, like households and businesses should operate within their means and find efficiencies where they can,” he said.
“But unfortunately in this case there is some consequence of fallout to people, and that is difficult.”
While defending the cuts, Mr Northe assured no frontline services would be affected by focusing on reducing the “red tape” within departments.
“We will find efficiencies through unnecessary processes to ensure frontline services will not be compromised,” he said.
Mr Northe said about 1000 public-service positions had already been lost through attrition and the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts.
Despite media reports State Treasurer Kim Wells could not rule out more job cuts, Mr Northe said “we have gotten over the worst”.
“You can’t predict the future but I am hoping what you have seen through the last financial year means we have gotten over the worst,” he said.
“We have a different philosophy to the Labor Government… our aim and objective is to ensure finances are strong, so we don’t have to borrow so extensively to provide future investment into Victoria and by doing that, makes you sustainable longer term,” Mr Northe said.
The government has not released information on what regions the positions would be cut from.