More jobs than people to fill them claims Norfolk's director
Norfolk Island's executive director says report from the island that dozens of people are losing their jobs in the administration are wrong.
The executive director of Australia's administration on Norfolk Island is disputing claims of widespread job losses in the island's government.
Norfolk Island is counting down to July 1st when its formerly limited self government is replaced by regional council status under the aegis of New South Wales.
It is a move that has angered many on the island - there is an ongoing sit-in at the island's now disused legislative assembly, an appeal has been made to the United Nations to be listed as a non-self-governing territory, and there are reports dozens of people are being laid off.
But Peter Gesling told Don Wiseman that is not the case.
PETER GESLING: There's been no information to people that people are going to lose their jobs, certainly, the jobs are changing from one organisation to a new organisation that has a more local set of activities and quite rightly, some jobs do not exist in the new organisation and people have been told that jobs are changing and we are working through a process of offering people the opportunity of applying for jobs in the new organisation.
DON WISEMAN: You mentioned to me that it looks like there will more jobs available than there will be people to fill them.
PG: That's an indictative assessment, I don't have the full data to back that at this stage but at this stage there looks to be more jobs than there are currently people. So that's why jobs are being placed on the open market in Norfork Island.
DW: Are you expecting to bring lots of people in from the mainland to fill jobs.
PG: No we are not.The skills exist on the island. We're seeking local people to fill them.
DW: But you have already brought some people in from the mainland, haven't you?
PG: There are temporary people here, as I am, undertaking a particular role and there are applications being assessed at the present time for executive mangement positions in the new organisation and they have been advertised in Australia generally and on island here. And people on island have applied for those as well as people from the broader geographic area of Australia, and that's being assessed at the present time, and I emphasise that there are people on the island who have applied for them as well, and they are in the same assessment process.
DW: Ok, because we understand that some people have received notes saying that they are likely to be made redundant, that they are surplus requirements, that they don't have the skills set, and you are saying that's not the case at all?
PG: They have received letters where the jobs have changed from what they've currently been doing, we are working with them to make an assessment, they've got to indicate their interest in the job, so there have been people who have been job matched, who have moved straight across to the new organisation, because the job still exists in the organisation. There are other areas where people have been skills-matched where an assessment team is involved, you know, people from the Public Service Association and people from the administration making assessments that their skills match a job and they've been offered those jobs. There's another group of people, another group of jobs which will be advertised this weekend for people whose jobs didn't transfer or whose skills didn't directly match the jobs that are being offered and they have been given the opportunity to apply for those and we will make an assessment of whether or not we can assist them, match their skill- set if they don't have them, and as I said, at this indication, we believe that there will be more jobs than there are people right.
DW: One of the organisations I know where people have gone from is from Radio Norfolk. How do you explain that?
PG: The only people who have gone from Radio Norfolk were people who were on contracts and looking like with every service that happens in the public sector, you look at what the skills set you need and the resources you need to provide your future service and it's been in that process either contracts are not being renewed, in most cases regarding that one, and we are looking at the future way that that service will be offered..
DW: So how many other contractors have been let go?
PG: There are many contracts in the current administration and some of those contracts will be paid out, some of them will apply for other jobs. We're following through what we are required to do under people's individual employment conditions.
DW: So how many people roughly would be on contracts and are not going have those contracts rolled over?
PG: Well I can't tell you the number. Again those people are still elgibile to apply for positions that are going to become, and full-time positions, that are going to become available.
DW: There's clearly a growing gulf between two sides on the island. The administration doesn't appear to be making a great deal to try and bridge that. Why is that?
PG: I don't know that I can comment further on that. We're doing what we can to work with the community, provide information to the community about the transition between the previous organisation and the future organisation (that) has less functions and quite frankly within a budget framework that we need to manage. We're no different from any other public sector organisation that is paid for by the community that needs to be sustainable in the longer term so it's that balance that we're trying to achieve there. But we are out there, we have engaged other resources to provide information to the community and we're continuing to respond to that information as best we can.
DW: The Chamber of Commerce last week called for the administration to delay this process by a year because a whole lot more work, they claim, needs to be done before anything is put in place ahead of July the 1st.
PG: Well I haven't had anything from the Chamber of Commerce in the last week and secondly I don't have control over that time frame. The Australian parliament's made a decision about when these things will happen and they've got to work to that time frame.
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