More than $113 million in state agency layoffs in 2021

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The head of the Prime Minister’s Department, Michael Coutts-Trotter, said last week that layoffs prompted by the retirement of former Prime Minister Berejiklian and associate ministers alone totaled $4.3 million.

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Coutts-Trotter said the total employment cost for Premier Perrottet’s office was $5.58 million for 29 employees, which is the past decade.

On Thursday, a New South Wales government spokeswoman said the aim was to ensure the civil service remained “fit for purpose”, adding that the government was committed to investing in frontline workers.

Since 2019, she said savings initiatives totaling more than $9.2 billion through 2024-25 have been implemented, including cuts to senior management and non-front-line employees and the public sector wage growth freeze in 2020-21.

‘The savings are plowed back into providing services for the people of NSW,’ she said. The spokeswoman said government agencies would comply with all legal obligations regarding layoffs.

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However, Labor and the public sector union have taken to the layoffs bill amid a tightening labor market and widespread skills shortages.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Daniel Mookhey accused the government of losing control of its budget as public sector workers were unable to secure a pay rise.

“Businesses in New South Wales desperately need more skilled workers, but the premier is shelling out tens of millions of dollars to cut TAFE,” he said.

“Our teachers, nurses and paramedics all have to take to the streets to fight for more resources. Rather than help them, the prime minister is kicking the bureaucrats out, with a golden parachute to cushion the fall.”

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A spokeswoman for TAFE NSW said a provision of $23 million was made last year for redundancies across student services and facilities teams, as part of TAFE’s major digital restructuring, but that only $10 million had been spent.

“No frontline roles, teaching positions or classroom student support roles have been affected,” she said.

“TAFE NSW has a record budget of $1.97 billion and the number of full-time equivalent teachers has increased every year since 2016.”

The general secretary of the public sector union, the Civil Service Association, Stewart Little, said TAFE’s efforts to integrate 10 institutes through a digital strategy could not solve the skills shortage because “c It’s a fantasy to think that you can learn to be an artisan online”.

He insisted that the government rethink its management of the public sector and the rising cost of layoffs.

“In today’s job market, people are quitting and retiring, and they haven’t been replaced. And yet bags of taxpayers’ money are being handed out to people who, in today’s job market, can quit one job and take another.

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