Service cutbacks concern officials

Community and Public Sector Union officials, concerned that cutbacks to Government services are harming South West communities, hosted a public meeting in Manjimup last week seeking public support and feedback for their anti-cutback campaign.

The union claims the State Government has reduced public sector funding and is systematically restructuring Government agencies with business groups in the South West concerned about the loss of local autonomy and knowledge through centralisation of services.

‘‘The purpose of the Manjimup meeting and all subsequent regional forums we hold is to foster dialogue between regional communities and the State Government,’’ the union said in a statement.

About 40 people attended the public meeting last Tuesday.

‘‘What came out of the meeting was people expressing their concern public sector cuts are having an impact and people are starting to see the effects on the local community,’’ said WA branch secretary Toni Walkington.

Mrs Walkington said the concerns raised at the regional meetings would be used as a basis for discussing these issues with WA politicians.

‘‘We will be going to candidates standing in the local electorates and ask them to commit to an action plan to address the adverse, negative aspects of Government service cuts,’’ Mrs Walkington said.

The union said the spillover effect of Government cutbacks to regional businesses and communities was particularly pronounced due to smaller economies of scale.

The Government’s motor vehicle purchasing policy was one example here centralisation could result in purchase of vehicles which were not necessarily suited to the local environment and conditions, as well as taking business away from the local dealers.

The union also highlighted the closure of Tourism Council WA offices in Bunbury, Albany, Broome, Port Hedland, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie, the loss of 40 jobs in biosecurity and natural resource management at the Department of Agriculture and Food and the planned privatisation of tree planting and sharefarming services as part of a restructure of the Forest Products Commission as examples of erosion of regional services.

Mrs Walkington said the union would continue to work with and speak with Manjimup residents and she invited anyone with something to say on the issue to contact the union.