Some of the public service's worst nightmares are starting to come true with reports of 16,000 public service jobs to be slashed and 70-plus government agencies to be merged or abolished in Tuesday's federal budget as part of Tony Abbott's move toward smaller government.
The Australian Financial Review says the government will also put other agencies on notice in foreshadowing deeper consolidation later in the year.
Jobs to go: Joe Hockey is expected to announce another 50 government agencies will be abolished in Tuesday's budget. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Those earmarked for abolition now range from the obscure Whitlam government Albury-Wodonga Development Corporation, to the more contemporary Council of Australian Governments Reform Council.
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The budget will also reportedly announce the axing of 16,000 federal public servants instead of the government's pre-election target of 12,000 positions.
This would be, in effect, an extra 1500 job losses, as it takes in the 14,500 positions that the Coalition said it had discovered were being cut by Labor efficiency dividends.
Among the organisations being targeted for sell-off by Treasurer Joe Hockey are Defence Housing Australia and the Royal Australian Mint, which could be sold to raise funds if supported by a scoping study.
These actions alone could raise more than $1 billion, according to a report carried by News Limited.
Privatising these entities was recommended in the National Commission of Audit - a document brutal on the bureaucracy and which the Community and Public Sector Union estimated would cost at least 25,000 public service jobs.
While many political observers have been debating which of the audit recommendations would be implemented, the latest news suggests the Coalition will take many of the public sector related suggestions on board.
Major Canberra cultural institutions are in the crosshairs as well, with back-office functions to be combined at the National Archives, National Film and Sound Archive, National Gallery, National Library, National Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Old Parliament House, but not the Australian War Memorial.
Museums Australia national director Bernice Murphy said the proposal had "enormous consequences for the institutions involved".
"Museums today, especially our national institutions, are complex multi-functional businesses that have so many strands to their operation. It would be unthinkable in business terms I believe, that if you had a very successful institution you would take its administrative services away and give those to another business," she said.
"I think there is a contradiction here in that this government wants much more support from the private sector but if you merge functions and erode individual identities you in fact threaten those institutions ability to entrepreneur their cultural abilities to the highest standard.
The National Water Commission and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will also reportedly be scrapped.
The report said agency consolidation would save $470m across four years.