Public service facing big cuts

By JULIA ILES

THE grey cloud of job losses looms over the public sector in the Clarence Valley after NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced plans to curb 14 government agencies in a move to balance the $533million anticipated budget deficit.

As for the hundreds of public servants in the Valley, it seems the first reshuffles will not greatly affect them, according to the Public Service Association (PSA) regional manager John Campbell.

"It doesn't look like the regional areas will be greatly affected by this, but cuts to regional agencies could kill any chances young people have of getting jobs in the public sector," he said.

"You've got to wonder if the smaller agencies will get as much attention as the larger ones. They seem to be shuffling finances, not taking into account the nature of the agencies."

Mr Iemma said the government would, over the next three months, identify further agencies to amalgamate.

"Cutting departments in NSW will better focus these new agencies on delivering results where currently responsibilities are split across more than one agency," he said.

Four agencies, including the Tourism Industry Division, will be incorporated into the Department of State and Regional Development, while 12 existing agencies will be reshuffled into the Department of the Arts, Sport and Recreation.

Member for Clarence Steve Cansdell agrees that any losses from the agencies would be fairly minimal in the Valley and that amalgamations are a step in the right direction.

"It makes sense to combine agencies as it helps with cost cutting," he said.

"One reason Bob Carr jumped ship was because the hole was too deep to jump out of. They (the Iemma Government) is going to have to do a lot more than this.

"On the surface it looks good and it's about time they reduced local bureaucracies, as we've had 11 years of bloated over regulation."

He would fiercely oppose, however, any cuts to frontline services such as the Road Traffic Authority (RTA).

Mr Iemma also announced yesterday a $90million payroll tax package aimed to assist new businesses, or those that are expanding or relocating to the Mid-North Coast.

The incentives are up to $144,00 a year and will be available to small and medium sized businesses.

This tax incentive is in place to help employment growth in regions that have persistently above average unemployment.



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