Professionals Australia members are calling on the Federal government to stop the erosion of engineering, science and technical expertise across Australian Government employment by committing to a professional APS workforce, based on medium to long term requirements.
“If we want to avoid a #CensusFail across Government the PM must invest in a plan to attract, develop and retain our national science and engineering capability from Defence to Health, from Agriculture to Environment, from Airservices and CASA to the CSIRO,” says David Smith, executive officer of the Australian Government group of Professionals Australia.
Members are reminding the Prime Minister of his contribution to the Innovation Summit in June last year, where Mr Turnbull praised the public service.
“The talent is the real asset of the public service. We have got to respect it, expect more from it, and promote and improve the quality of that workforce all the time,” said Mr Turnbull, then Communications Minister.
Professionals Australia has launched a new video, which is making the rounds on social media, calling on the Prime Minister to live up to his own words, show leadership, and introduce reforms that give public servants real recognition and the opportunity to improve services to the community.
The state of enterprise bargaining and the reforms introduced by Australian Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd suggest that the Government is more focused on making public sector jobs more precarious, by putting more staff onto fixed term contracts and using labour hire, rather than identifying and securing talent.
About 40 naval engineers, architects and other technicians are taking a stand against the degradation of technical capacity in the Defence Department, by refusing to work on the new $50 billion fleet of submarines for a week from midnight on Tuesday. They will also target the future frigate program, the offshore patrol boat program and the replacement of a vital naval refuelling vessel.
Members’ long-standing grievances about the strength of the APS technical workforce have not been addressed as part of the marathon enterprise bargaining process at Defence. “The government should be exploring the ways it can use enterprise bargaining and public sector reform to establish genuine workforce initiatives that support and value professional expertise rather than adopting failed approaches that create uncertain, unattractive and undervalued workplaces.” Mr Smith said
“The question for the Prime Minister is simple: do you back a science and innovation agenda or not?” Mr Smith asks.
“If the Prime Minister says innovation and national science and engineering capability are at the top of his priority list, he should properly recognise the engineering, science and technical expertise already present across Australian Government.”