Monday 18 April 2011

Post-Election NSW (II)

So, will they or won't they? (cut NSW public sector payroll, that is).

So far, as reported, signs about an eventual "slash-and-burn" campaign against the NSW public service seem mixed.

At one hand, there was talk of an unexpected budget "black hole" of $4.5 bn and a negative to rule out future budget cuts (which sounds ominous).

At the other hand, public sector unions seemed cautiously confident that the newly elected NSW government would keep a reasonable stance on this matter (which sounds somewhat reassuring).

However, considering that the Commonwealth has been warning of an impending tough federal budget, so much apparent moderation from the State Government is weird.

Last week Prof. Peter Shergold was appointed chairman of the board of the recently formed NSW Public Service Commission, to scrutinize "the role, size and direction of the NSW public service":
"One of his first tasks will be to oversee the review, which is expected to cover all aspects of the public service, including staff numbers, what they are paid and the way directors-general are appointed. It will take between three and six months."
Does it mean that a "slash-and-burn" campaign is about to be unleashed against the NSW public service?

Not necessarily, according to some observers:
"Forecasts that Shergold's appointment heralds a slash-and-burn campaign appear premature, however. Indeed, it is generally agreed that Shergold's five-year tenure as top public servant (he left after Kevin Rudd won the 2007 election) silenced many critics..."
However, the fact that Prof. Shergold has described his career "as a mandarin could be typified as that of an economic rationalist", who was the secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Workplace Relations during the waterfront disputes appears far from reassuring.

Update on election results:

The seemingly definitive results, after preferences, seem to indicate a better result for the Greens. They did indeed get their first seat at the lower house of the State Parliament, at the expenses of Labor; and the independent Pauline Hanson finally was left out of the upper house:

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