Public services shutting down in New South Wales, Australia due to lack of money

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Monday, December 19, 2005

Some public services in New South Wales, Australia's most populous state, are shutting for extended periods over Christmas and New Year in an effort to save money.

Public hospitals are cancelling elective surgery for periods of up to six weeks. The University of Newcastle has forced all staff to take annual leave and has ceased its core functions of research and teaching for three weeks.

A NSW Health spokesperson has defended its decision to keep quiet about the shutdowns, saying "They [NSW Health] don't want to release any more information - we are telling the public enough." The NSW president of the Australian Medical Association, John Gullotta, disagrees saying "We are losing up to three months of the year in shutdowns." He went on to say "A lot of it is about cost savings - they will blame the holidays, but it is about reining in costs."

According to the University of Newcastle its shutdown "is, at this stage, a one-off event." Further, "the primary objective of the Christmas close down is to reduce leave accruals." Earlier in the year the University laid off 412 staff in an effort to reduce costs.