THE South Australian government has retrenched eight crown solicitors, despite claims there is a skills shortage in the public service sector.
The solicitors were declared “excess to requirements” and given voluntary separation packages at the end of September.
Justice Department chief executive, Jerome Maguire, has revealed the cuts in a letter to the Public Service Association.
The list he put forward showed all the named employees had accepted packages and resigned from Government on 30 September this year.
The list includes five senior solicitors, one outposted lawyer, two solicitors, two legal secretaries, a conveyancing officer, a paralegal/research officer, an administration co-ordinator and an office administrator from the crown solicitor’s office.
Public Service Association general secretary, Jan McMahon, said cuts to legal and regulatory staff at a time when the Government was pushing its law and order agenda would have a negative impact.
“Those positions will be lost but the workload is not lost,” she said.
“The government has identified that it has a skills shortage in the public service legal area and yet they are eliminating these positions. This is just a savings strategy.”
She added: “If you are losing some of those positions the level of service will not be at the level that the government intended and there are consequences from that.”
A spokesperson for the attorney general said the retrenchments were offered to staff who expressed an interest in leaving government and whose positions were no longer required. It was also offered where the duties of the positions occupied could be managed by other staff without overloading those other staff.
“The Rann Government maintains its commitment to investing in frontline service delivery in the key areas of government and we continue to maintain a strong focus towards victims and delivering swifter justice. As a result we have invested heavily in the relevant areas to foster improvements in these areas.”
Between 2002 and 2009 there has been a substantial increase in workload and output by the crown solicitor’s office, according to the spokesperson, but despite a significant increase in workload, the office has become significantly more efficient and effective, and has managed its existing “baseload” of work better.
“The quality and timeliness of work has also increased over this period, as measured by annual statistically valid confidential client surveys.”