NSW Government cutting $110m from Service NSW employee budget but won't say how many jobs to go

Muswellbrook Service NSW Centre opened its doors early last year
Muswellbrook Service NSW Centre opened its doors early last year

THE opposition has called on the state government to reveal the extent of planned job cuts at Service NSW.

This year's budget estimates papers outlined a 42 per cent cut in employee-related expenses at the agency, from $256 million in 2018-19 to $146 million in 2019-20.

In response to questions at a budget estimates hearing in October, the government said the cuts would "result in a reduction in full-time equivalent positions across the [Department of Customer Service] cluster in 2019-20, including at Service NSW".

It could not quantify the job losses as it was "still working through this detail", but the cost-saving would include the "consolidation of common corporate services and customer-facing functions, as well as reducing or stopping activities with minimal customer impact".

Service NSW employs about 2800 people and acts as an access point for a range of government transactions, including driving licences, the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages and Fair Trading licences.

It has two main "contact centres" in Parramatta and Newcastle, which employ 550 people.

It also operates more than 100 smaller service centres across the state, including Muswellbrook and Singleton.

Labor's Shadow Minister for Better Public Services Sophie Cotsis said the cuts likely would affect services.

"The government must reveal details of its planned job cuts because they are likely to make it harder for people to access basic services like driving tests and cost-of-living assistance," she explained.

"Around 70 per cent of Service NSW centres are in regional areas.

"These job cuts will also make it harder for people to access help if they are affected by drought or bushfires.

"They need to come clean and explain this drastic cut in funding for workers and how they plan to maintain service delivery, particularly in the bush and regional areas."

A spokesperson for Finance, Services and Property Minister Victor Dominello said the cuts would not include "frontline Service NSW staff".

The budget papers also showed a $52 million increase in Service NSW's non-employee-related operating budget for this year.

The agency opened a service centre at Muswellbrook in March, 2018, and plans to open another at Toronto to replace the motor registry that closed controversially in 2015.

"The Service NSW footprint continues to grow with 105 service centres now in operation," Mr Dominello's spokesperson said.

"Another two centres will open this year, while 10 more have been committed for metropolitan Sydney.

"We also have three mobile service centres assisting regional communities, with a fourth expected to hit the road in the coming months."

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said when announcing the budget in June that a total of 2000 to 3000 public sector jobs would go as the government sought $2.5 billion in savings.

Mr Dominello's spokesperson said taxpayers wanted to "know their money is being used for their benefit, which is why we are stopping activities with minimal customer impact".