PUBLIC servants can either agree to move to a regional city like Bendigo or they can start their own business and leave the public sector altogether, Member for Murray Damian Drum says.
Mr Drum chaired a report into decentralisation which recommended regional locations be considered when a new government agency is created or an agency needs to be relocated due to changes to property leases.
With Bendigo seeking more government jobs to aid in its $90 million Gov Hub plan, the city could become a prime location should a government agency relocation be on the cards.
But issues with the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority from Canberra to Armidale has highlighted difficulties in shifting departments without extensive prior planning.
This week, the APVMA announced 40 jobs would remain in Canberra.
Speaking in Bendigo this week, Mr Drum said public servants should accept a shift to the regions.
“As much as we understand and respect the work that public servants do, they cannot dictate to a government – whether it be a state government, or whether it be a federal government – where those jobs must be,” he said.
“If they want to dictate the location of positions, they can go and start their own business. That way they can dictate where they live and where they work.
“If you want to take a role in the public service, you take that role where it exists.”
The report found 40 per cent of Commonwealth public service jobs were in Canberra, while Victoria had 17 per cent. New South Wales had 20 per cent.
The City of Greater Bendigo hopes to construct a Gov Hub to replace the council offices on Lyttleton Terrace, bringing together 1000 workers from council staff and other public sector departments and agencies.
The state government provided $16 million to the project, with much of the remainder expected to come from the private sector.
Bendigo Bank has long been touted as a success story in decentralising a major private entity, but there were limited other examples.
The State Trustees has struggled to staff its offices in Bendigo.
But Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie said successes in other regional cities – such as relocating the CSIRO to Hobart, and the NSW Agriculture Department to Orange – showed positive outcomes could be achieved.
“To argue now, particularly with our increased transport connectivity and digital connectivity, that you cannot be a world-class researcher, a world-class public servant, a world-class anything, and live in a place like Bendigo, you’ve just completely missed the point,” she said.