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Public service exit rate a trickle


Noel Towell, Markus Mannheim

251 public servants have left their jobs since the Abbott Government was elected.

251 public servants have left their jobs since the Abbott Government was elected. Photo: Phil Carrick

Only 251 federal public servants have left their jobs since the Abbott government was elected, based on latest reported figures, and most of them pocketed redundancy payouts.

An analysis of data from the Australian Public Service Gazette published since September 7 shows the vast majority of public servants who left their jobs since the election received a payout, despite the Coalition's assurances this would not happen.

Of the 251 reported ''separations'', 182 received a redundancy package, while eight senior executives received an ''incentive to retire'' payment. Eleven of the bureaucrats were declared redundant on medical grounds, four were sacked for misconduct and four were shown the door for incompetence.

The figures - about 30 departures each week - represent about one-sixth of the separation rate needed if the government is to reach its pre-election target of slashing 6000 jobs by June.

The Coalition believes its first tranche of cuts will be enough to reach its ambitious target of saving $303 million this financial year.

Then there are plans for another 6000 jobs to be cut in the 15 months between next July and September 2015, and savings of $1.2 billion in the 2014-15 financial year are expected.

The Coalition's plan calls for $1.7 billion in savings in 2015-16 and $1.92 billion in 2016-17, for a total of $5.1 billion ripped out of the federal public service in the forward-estimates period.

But the high rate of expensive redundancy payouts since the election could be problematic for the jobs reduction program, which was supposed to be achieved through natural attrition and without recourse to redundancies or mass sackings.

Meanwhile, thousands of contractors and other ''non-ongoing'' public service staff across Australia are facing an uncertain future after the announcement of a freeze on all external recruitment.

According to a bulletin to 6000 CSIRO workers from their boss Megan Clark, the extension or renewal of contracts or fixed term appointments counts as external recruitment under the "interim arrangements".

"In line with the announcement by the Government today regarding APS recruitment, I announce an immediate recruitment freeze covering the following: external recruitment; and, entering into any new, or extending existing term or contract employment arrangements," Dr Clarke wrote.

The CSIRO Chief executive said that all recruitment process would stop except where written offers had already been made.

Australian Taxation workers have been told to prepare for a "promotions drought" in the wake of the hiring freeze that could last years.

The Australian Services Union has told its ATO members that the tax office's attrition rate could see hundreds of jobs fall vacant each year with little prospect of filling them.

Union official Jeff Lapidos warned the ATO rank-and-file to prepare for tough times at work.

"In practice it means that many vacancies will not be filled," Mr Lapidos wrote.

"The ATO's 'natural attrition rate' creates hundreds of vacancies each year.

"Other vacancies will be created through the limited number of transfers at level that will be allowed.

"Promotion opportunities will be severely limited for a significant period under this approach, perhaps for the life of the current Parliament."


  • I don't think you've told the whole story. Resignations and expiry of contracts aren't gazetted.

    Incomplete data
    Date and time
    November 04, 2013, 8:05AM
    • @incomplete data, have to agree wholeheartedly, this is yet another unsubstantiated broadside at the Abbott government from a paper and its' owners whose political leanings and views are most certainly of a Left Wing nature.
      Tell me Fairfax Press, what would you do, sack 12000 people just to make the bottom line look better, that only happens in your world where the almighty dollar is king and people are a commodity.

      Date and time
      November 04, 2013, 9:06AM
    • "Resignations and expiry of contracts aren't gazetted:" They aren't? Where does it say that? Of the 251 seperations the reasons for approx 42 were not listed so wouldn't you presume they were resignations or similar?

      mike basil
      Date and time
      November 04, 2013, 10:13AM
    • @Bob, of course Fairfax isn't suggesting that Abbott immediately sack 12000 to make the bottom line look better. More likely the implication is that what was promised - especially the claimed savings - was never achievable. In other words, another broken promise. Is that too nuanced a view for you?

      Date and time
      November 04, 2013, 11:28AM
    • @incomplete data is correct. The APSC Commissioner's Directions 2013 specify the employment decisions to be notified in the Gazette. Clauses 2.29(i) and (j) are the only cessations that must be reported. These do not include resignations, retirements (except where an incentive payment was made) or expiry of contracts.

      Data correction
      Date and time
      November 04, 2013, 11:59AM
    • Bob, you seem very confused! Firstly, you have mistaken the fact that Fairfax doesn't uncritically support whatever hare-brained scheme that the Dear Leader proposes as being 'left'. Secondly, you boil a complex issue down to a false ideological binary ('left' is baaaad, baaa baaa!). Thirdly, sacking 12000 people to make the bottom line look good is exactly what the Dear Leader promised to do - so it seems that you can't even get the very simplistic policies of your own ideology right. And you have the vote?

      Mad Uncle Bruno
      Date and time
      November 04, 2013, 12:34PM
    • @Bob "Tell me Fairfax Press, what would you do, sack 12000 people just to make the bottom line look better"

      Errrrm....isn't that exactly what Rabbot is doing?!! That's a rhetorical question by the way, just in case you are not able to see the obvious (doesn't appear you are). You really think they are going to be able to get rid of 12,000 and still perform their duties? You are DREAMING. You know what will happen? They'll lay them off, give them a nice payout cheque, and 2 months later hire them again as out sourced staff, thus removing them from the official books.

      "that only happens in your world where the almighty dollar is king and people are a commodity."

      Again, sounds like your glorious leader's idea, not The Age.

      Date and time
      November 04, 2013, 1:14PM
    • Bob a misconception. The Fairfax board has members of the LNP on it. You are so used to getting it all your own way on Murdoch that you are affronted by just a little bit of balance. Vanstone writes for the Age. No Labor people write for Murdoch. Not far down the track Murdoch's lost media credibility will come back on the his media outlets.

      Date and time
      November 05, 2013, 7:30AM
  • Should be some property fire sales coming up, as the PS drops the investment properties will be shedding

    Fire sale
    Date and time
    November 04, 2013, 9:07AM
    • No surprise. Why would anyone leave the APS when they know redundancies will be offered. "Natural attrition".... yeah right. Hold and wait is the advice. In the mean time make yourself a good 'target' for redundancy... don't be valuable.

      Take a redundancy, wait 36 weeks then reapply when the positions open up again. If I'd been in the APS for 20 years and knew a redundancy was worth $100k, plus $25k ongoing under the pension schemed, I'd wait too.

      Date and time
      November 04, 2013, 9:47AM

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