Tony Abbott says that Canberra did well under the Howard Government despite “doing it tough” after the job cuts of 1996.
And the Federal Opposition Leader pledged this morning that there would be no forced redundancies in the federal public service under a government he leads.
Mr Abbott spoke to the Canberra Times this morning as he ran on the shores of Lake Walter Burley Griffin with Canberra Liberals leader Zed Seselja in what is likely to be the federal leader’s only campaign appearance.
He said the 12,000 job cuts for the capital’s public servants, repeatedly threatened by his treasury spokesman Joe Hockey could be achieved without any sackings and that Federal Labor had “dudded” Canberra by cutting jobs without being upfront about it with voters.
“The Commonwealth public sector payroll is 20,000 greater now than at the end of 2007 so a reduction by natural attrition of 12,000 would still leave the Commonwealth public sector payroll bigger than it was when the Howard Government left office,” Mr Abbott said.
“I really want to stress that we are not talking about forced redundancies, we are talking about not replacing everyone who leaves, that’s all.
“The people of Canberra shouldn’t be dudded by Labor again because Julia Gillard explicitly said before the 2010 campaign that there would be no efficiency dividends, no cuts to the public service
“Since then, we’ve had efficiency dividend after efficiency dividend and 3000 job cuts, so really and truly Labor dudded the people of Canberra.”
Mr Abbott conceded that the job cuts of the first year of the Howard Government had hurt Canberra but said the city did well in the “totality” of the Howard years.
“I accept that Canberra did it tough for a year or so, but if you look at the totality of the Howard Government, Canberra did very well under the Howard Government, Australia did very well under the Howard Government,” Mr Abbott said.
“There will always be more jobs under the coalition because there will always be a stronger economy under the coalition.
“What Zed wants to do is to take the cost-of-living pressure off families and the best way you can do that is by not going ahead with the massive rate rises that the ACT Labor Government has planned.”