MASSIVE cuts to the public service contained in this year's federal budget could see one in 30 Queanbeyan workers looking for new employment, with significant flow on effects for the local economy.
With 20 per cent of Queanbeyan workers (4000 people) employed by the Government and 7000 positions scheduled to be cut from the Canberra/Queanbeyan region, Mayor Tim Overall said the budget would disproportionately affect local residents.
"The impacts on Queanbeyan (and Canberra of course) will be relatively severe with the local community shouldering a disproportionate share of the contribution to what has been asked of Australia generally," Cr Overall said this week.
"We can expect as many as 400-500 people, or 3pc of the Queanbeyan workforce, could be looking for alternative employment.
"This, together with the budget's cost of living impacts such as the fuel excise, Medicare co-payments and reductions in family tax benefits, will have a slowing effect on local retail sales and potentially property prices," he said.
Queanbeyan Business Chamber president Jamie Cregan echoed those concerns for the local economy, and said the Business Chamber would be lobbying the Federal Government to include retraining packages to assist retrenched workers.
"I think the public service cuts are going to have a wide, regional effect," Mr Cregan said.
"We knew the cuts were coming. The thing that concerns me the most is they didn't offer up any packages for retraining from the public service cuts.
"When Holden and Ford announced they were going to close their workshops, those employees were going to be given retraining in other areas. And I don't think public servants should be treated any differently.
"When you take out 16,500 public service jobs, that could be as much as a billion dollars out of the regional economy, so there will be some hard times ahead," he said.
In his budget speech on Tuesday night, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey framed cuts of 230 bureaucratic programs, more than 70 government bodies and 16,500 federal jobs as providing greater efficiency of service, with less overlap between levels of government.
"A smaller, less interfering Government won't need as many public servants," Mr Hockey said.
"At the moment, duplication and overlap between the Commonwealth and States blur where the buck stops. Over the next eighteen months, we will work with State and Territory Governments to strengthen the Federation and ensure that the overlap between the layers of government is reduced or removed."
However the national secretary of the public service union, the CPSU's Nadine Flood said the cuts would affect service levels to the community.
"It's a myth you can cut this many jobs and not affect services," she said. "Australia has an efficient public service already groaning after previous cuts."
Meanwhile, Mayor Overall welcomed the $1 billion over five years for regional infrastructure contained in the budget, as well as additional 'Roads to Recovery' funding and a 1.5% reduction to the company tax rate.