Victorian government’s move to cut 5,000 public servants in their

The biggest job layoff in the Victorian government in 10 years is expected to occur in May as more than 5,000 public servants face the axe.

There are more than 55,000 workers in the state’s public sector with all government departments directed to eliminate 10 per cent of their ongoing staff.

Net debt within the Victorian government is projected to reach $165.4 billion in June 2026, with the Labor Party aiming to alleviate financial challenges ahead of the crucial budget.

Secretary of the community and public sector union Karen Batt criticised the targeting of the public sector as she appeared on Sky News Australia on Wednesday morning.

“It’s the equivalent of political suicide in our view – you cannot have this sort of cut not have an impact on jobs and services across the state,” she told First Edition host Peter Stefanovic.

“We’ve already got significant vacancies because of COVID-19, 500 vacancies in child protection, we can’t run the state’s prisons properly because we don’t have enough staff to fill the rosters, (there’s) 550 vacancies in the department of education and yet they want to cut more and more.”

Ms Batt likened the decision to the job losses that occurred in 2012 under the Ted Baillieu-led Liberal government where 4,200 public servants were shown the exit through voluntary redundancies.

“It’s the biggest layoff in 10 years, last time something like this happened it was the Baillieu government and it only lasted one term,” she said.

Stefanovic suggested the growth of the public sector wasn’t sustainable as workers in the industry have grown by 54 per cent since 2015 while more than $14 billion of funding has been poured into the system.

“They are sustainable if they are done in a particular way, they can be worked through in a far more compassionate way – we’ve had early retirements running for the last 18 months and that has been done in a very, very controlled way,” Ms Batt said.

“What we have is a situation where an arbitrary figure of 10 per cent is being laid down as law by treasury.

“The departments are telling us that it cannot meet its service delivery targets now and cuts of any further of this size will see the government collapse.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was critical of Baillieu’s job slashes 11 years ago following the end to the ex-premier’s tenure.

“Victoria’s Liberal Premier Ted Baillieu chose not to field a candidate, facing a public backlash against his cuts to education and training, internal grumblings and plummeting approval ratings,” Mr Andrews wrote in a column for The Australian in July, 2012.

“We highlighted Mr Baillieu’s funding cuts to TAFE and 4200 public sector job cuts. We asked voters to stick with Labor and ‘make this a one-term Baillieu government’.”

The 2023/24 Victorian State Budget will be delivered on Tuesday May 23.

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