Lundy’s numbers claim in spotlight

Fact Checker: Will the Coalition cut 20,000 public service jobs?

Canberra Liberals are accusing Labor Senator Kate Lundy of telling ‘‘lies’’ after a Fairfax Media analysis said she had made a false claim about the Coalition’s policy on public service jobs.

The development came as Employment Minister Bill  Shorten blitzed the ACT,  where Labor has a firm hold on the two lower house seats and one Senate spot, while the Greens are attempting to end the Liberals’ hold on the second Senate position.

A fact analysis was conducted on Senator Lundy’s Twitter claim  on  Friday that the “Libs have confirmed” a cut of 20,000 jobs.

PolitiFact says while the figure has been used by Liberal MPs, it finds the claim the Liberal Party has “confirmed they will cut 20,000 jobs” to be false. The Coalition’s policy is to reduce the public service by 12,000 over three years by natural attrition.

Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has said  12,000 was a ‘‘starting point’’. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said at his campaign launch on Sunday:  ‘‘We don’t need 20,000 more public servants now than in 2007.’’

On Monday, ACT Liberal Senate candidate Zed Seselja said:  “Senator Lundy has tried to shift focus away from her own broken promises on job cuts by spreading lies about the Coalition’s policy.’’

The analysis showed the Coalition policy was clear and Labor’s claims were not backed by facts, he said. “Senator Lundy needs to be honest with Canberrans about the public service job cuts made under her party’s government, rather than trying to hide behind lies about the Coalition plans,” he said.

Mr Seselja counter-claimed that under the Labor,  ‘‘over 10,000 jobs have been cut, or promised to be cut, over the outgoing years’’, including through voluntary and involuntary redundancies.

Senator Lundy’s spokeswoman told Politifact: ‘‘There is always a reference to the 20,000 figure.  Why would they be referencing it if they weren’t considering it?’’

The Community and Public Sector Union has previously estimated the Labor government’s decision to increase the efficiency dividend from 1.25per cent to 2.25per cent would cost up to 5000 jobs.

The union walked away from Labor’s election campaign three weeks ago, saying the decision to increase the efficiency dividend was ‘‘awful’’.

After its temporary break, the union returned on Friday with modelling it says shows an Abbott government could cost the ACT and southern NSW the loss of 8400 public service jobs. The projections are much more conservative than those the union took to the 2010 election when it predicted 30,000 local job losses under an Abbott-led government, a forecast branded by local conservative politicians as ‘‘union thuggery’’.

The union has agreed with Mr Shorten to work to limit the impact of the efficiency dividend to 2000 jobs.

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