Job fears in the Far North after Government axes 2000 transport department staff
TRANSPORT union bosses say Cairns-based staff are safe in the short term, but huge job cuts announced by the State Government yesterday do not bode well for commuters or workers down the track.
About 2000 public servants in the transport department – nearly one in five employees – will lose their jobs under a major four-year restructure.
Under the reforms, Brisbane-based TransLink will cease operating as a standalone body, and will be absorbed into the Department of Transport and Main Roads to reduce doubling-up.
About 600 staff will be axed from RoadTek, 70 from Translink, and the rest from the DTMR.
Transport Minister Scott Emerson said TransLink would still oversee the qconnect bus network in regional cities such as Cairns, along with subsidised regional airline, coach and ferry services.
"All Queensland Government passenger transport services will be integrated for the first time under the Translink banner. No longer will there be two separate government agencies … doing the same task in different areas of the state," he said yesterday.
The State Government has not promised to refrain from forced redundancies during the staff purge, nor has it ruled out further cuts or privatisation.
Transport Workers Union Far Northern organiser Janine Aitken predicts the first job cuts will affect administrative staff in Brisbane.
But she said the cutbacks would put pressure on Far Northern staff, who could also face the axe over the course of the restructure.
"Workers, such as safety inspectors, can only be in one place at once, so if their workload becomes too big, we’ll see things falling through the cracks ... and safety aspects will be breached," Ms Aitken said.
She also believed the Newman Government’s cuts would eventually affect the number and frequency of bus routes in Cairns, with Mr Emerson last week pledging to scrap unprofitable and under-performing bus services in Brisbane.
"For us, that means that we’re going to have a bit of an issue because quite a few of the bus runs in Cairns are non-profit," Ms Aitken said.
"But we can’t just stop servicing those runs – Cairns is large and spread out.
"A reduction in runs means the gaps between buses will be longer, or the runs will be cut altogether."
Mr Emerson said an 18 per cent reduction of TransLink and departmental staff would save $287 million over the next four years.
"In order to get Queensland back on track I am prepared to make the tough calls," he said.
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Restructure: Campbell Newman's Government announced about 2000 public servants would lose their jobs. Picture: LIAM KIDSTON