Defence is spending up big on empty workspace in the ACT.
Defence is doing its bit to prop up Canberra's flagging commercial real estate market by spending millions on more than 24,000 square metres of empty workspace across the ACT.
The vacant floor space would be enough for almost 2000 public servants, according to the Commonwealth's own guidelines.
Defence documents show the organisation spends more than $70 million on leases in Canberra each year meaning consolidation would save millions of dollars annually.
A Defence spokesperson said consolidating the space might "take some time" because Defence generally signed longer leases to find the best value for money.
"Defence acknowledges that its civilian workforce is being reduced, and is reviewing and consolidating its estate as leases expire," the spokesperson said.
Thirteen per cent of Defence's commercial space in the ACT was vacant, according to the spokesperson from the biggest employer in the federal bureaucracy, which was almost twice the industry's recommended vacancy rate of 7 per cent.
But Defence said vacancy rates fluctuated, adding that a site in the Canberra suburb of Mitchell which until recent months was 40 per cent empty now had just 5 per cent of its space vacant.
Canberra MP and shadow parliamentary secretary for defence Gai Brodtmann said the empty space indicated deeper economic problems for the territory.
"In Canberra we know all too well that there are broader economic implications to slashing public service jobs," Ms Brodtmann said.
"Empty office space is not only a waste of taxpayer dollars, but it also means there are fewer people using the businesses around that office – so the surrounding cafes and small businesses suffer."
She said the vacancy rate was likely to worsen as Defence cut more than 2000 jobs across Australia by mid-2018.
"We still don't know what will come out of the wide ranging first principles review, or if the government will implement more recommendations from its Commission of Audit," she said.
"We could very likely be looking at more job cuts."
The vacancy rate in Canberra increased in the past six months to 13.6 per cent, according to the Property Council of Australia's Office Market Report.
A new building near Parliament House, at 1 Canberra Avenue, is searching for public servants to fill its 24,000 square metre building and market observers said there were tens of thousands of square metres of vacant office space near the airport.
Canberra's office market vacancy rate increased from 12.9 per cent reported in January 2014, to the highest level of vacancy since July 2010.
A surplus of vacant office space in the ACT has now been dragging on for several years and the latest austerity measures placed on the federal public service will reduce the Canberra-based Commonwealth bureaucracy by an estimated 6500 by 2018.