The Economic Importance of Public Services in Regional Communities in NSW

by Troy Henderson

Public sector austerity has become a “policy fad” in Australia, at all levels of government. Its hallmarks are unnecessary public sector wage caps, outsourcing, downsizing, privatisation and the imposition of so-called “efficiency dividends” which allegedly drive productivity growth but in reality cut spending and reduce the quality of public services. These policies of austerity are not justified by economic theory, especially not in conditions of chronic macroeconomic weakness, unemployment, and underemployment (such as characterise most areas of Regional NSW). They may be politically convenient for political leaders positioning themselves as “tough on deficits,” but in reality they impose a wide range of harmful economic and social consequences. At best they represent lazy thinking in policy; at worst they constitute deliberate attempts to erode the public sector and the critical services it provides.

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