Queues at licensing centres will get longer and waiting times for driving tests are set to blow out after an internal Department of Transport memo revealed job losses and overtime bans will be needed to meet Barnett Government budget cuts and staff freezes.
The executive memo sent to department director-general Reece Waldock last month — and obtained by The West Australian — has prompted union fears of longer licensing centre queues and driving test waiting times.
The memo says that new staff ceilings, calculated in accordance with recent budget saving measures implemented by WA Treasury, were “significantly short of what is required for DVS (the driver and vehicles services division) to operate satisfactorily”.
To meet the ceiling, the memo said staff would need to be reduced by at least 50, including 16 staff from a temporary agency.
Yesterday, Transport Minister Troy Buswell said no Department of Transport employee, including fixed-term contractors, had lost their job as a result of the State Government’s budget measures. But, like all government agencies, the department was taking action to meet budget saving targets.
The memo says $1 million would be saved by stopping overtime immediately — except where practical driving tests had already been booked. It is understood an overtime ban would have most impact on driving testers who are sometimes paid overtime to work on their day off in centres with a significant backlog.
Mr Buswell confirmed the department was considering “the most appropriate use of overtime” and overtime for driving tests would continue to be paid “where necessary”.
“The department continues to focus on providing excellent front line service to its customers, including those attending licensing centres, and is working to ensure the budget savings measures do not affect these services,” he said
In State Parliament earlier this year, Mr Buswell revealed driving test waiting times were as high as 41 days at the Mandurah licensing centre, 30 days at Morley, 29 days at Willagee and 19 at Kelmscott. He said they often fluctuated.
Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association branch secretary Toni Walkington said the memo was another example of a government agency struggling to deal with budget cuts and staff freezes.
“When they announced these cutbacks, the Barnett Government said frontline services would not be affected,” Ms Walkington said.
“The reality is frontline services are being affected and already licensing centres are understaffed.
“If the department is forced to make more cutbacks then waiting times will blowout for driver tests and queues will be longer at the counters.”
Shadow transport minister Ken Travers said there were already massive delays at licensing centres. He said the Government had an agenda to run down licensing centres and privatise their services.