Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh.

Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The federal government has not ruled out a spill-and-fill at the Department of Finance. 

The department is in the process of culling 26 staff before July 2015, although 252 staff will be lost across the Finance portfolio.

In Parliament on Monday evening, Fraser MP and shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh asked the government whether it would be forcing staff at Finance to reapply for their own jobs.

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Michael McCormack, parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Finance, could not answer either way. 

"I am not aware – and this is in response to his previous question – of any plans to do a spill-and-fill, but difficult times do call for hard decisions," Mr McCormack said. 

The use of spill-and-fill has been increasing across the federal bureaucracy as the numbers of public servants is reduced by 16,500 by the middle of 2018.

The Communications Department and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are two that have used the mechanism, which does not protect workers from applying for jobs at lower salaries than their existing jobs.

Dr Leigh said he was disappointed he could not receive a ''yes'' or ''no'' answer from the government about a spill-and-fill at Finance.

"As parliamentary secretary, that is a piece of information that ought to be directly available to him," Dr Leigh said.

"If he is unable to rule it out, then many of my constituents who work in the Department of Finance will be concerned that just such a spill-and-fill is taking place.

"Those of us in this place expect a spill-and-fill to take place every three years, but my constituents, hardworking public servants serving both sides of politics, should not be treated in such a way." 

He said the parliamentary secretary was also unable to explain why there was a nearly $100 million decrease in departmental expenses for Finance, raising further concerns of a hit to Finance.

* An earlier version of this story said the Department of Finance would cull 252 jobs by mid-2015. The figure is 26. The 252 figure was from the budget papers taking into account cuts across the Finance portfolio.