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Labor planning to ditch 4000 jobs

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Photo: Gary Ramage

Federal government workplaces are expected to cull more than 4000 jobs over the next 11 months, an analysis of this month's economic statement suggests.

The staffing purge would be the worst in 15 years, and the toughest under a Labor government since Paul Keating's 1994-95 budget.

We have a strong expectation that agencies will first look at non-staffing activities before considering staff reductions. 

Treasurer Chris Bowen

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd unveiled the statement on August 2 in response to a worsening economic and revenue outlook.

It shows the government plans to spend $229 million less on wages and salaries in 2013-14 than it had allocated in its May budget.

That equates to 2981 fewer full-time-equivalent staff, as the budget's estimates are based on an average employee costing $76,821 in wages, excluding other expenses such as superannuation.

Civilian government workplaces, such as public service agencies and statutory authorities, were already preparing to shed 1262 full-time jobs in 2013-14 due to the cuts imposed by the May budget.

The projected staff losses may be lower, however, if they target public servants in senior and middle-management roles, who receive higher salaries and tend to be based in Canberra.

The government has said previously it wants to cull senior executives and executive-level officers, as their ranks had grown faster than the rest of the bureaucracy's workforce.

The extra job losses are highly unlikely to affect military personnel, however, as the economic statement slightly increased defence spending in 2013-14. The Taxation Office is also unlikely to suffer as much as other agencies, as it was given extra resources ''to address ongoing levels of tax debt and unpaid superannuation''.

Treasurer Chris Bowen said it was up to department and agency heads to decide how to reduce administrative spending.

''We have a strong expectation that agencies will first look at non-staffing activities before considering staff reductions,'' he said.

The Finance Department said it had not quantified how the economic statement would affect the government's staffing levels, and it would not do so until next year, when it began preparing for the 2014-15 budget.

Employment prospects within the public service are unlikely to brighten for years, regardless of which party claims victory in next month's election.

The Rudd government has committed to inflating its annual cut to agencies' operating budgets - known as the efficiency dividend - from 1.25 per cent to 2.25 per cent as of July 1 next year.

The Community and Public Sector Union estimates that decision will result in the loss of another 5000 jobs.

The Coalition has committed to shedding 12,000 Australian Public Service jobs by imposing a hiring freeze if it gains office.

34 comments

  • This is a clear indication that neither side really has any strategic planning or thinking - it is about short term gains. Sacking people appears to be an over simplistic way to apparently reduce expenditure on salaries and associated entitlements. If the work still has to be done, then they will hire consultants (most likely the very people they have just paid out) at much higher rates of pay.
    Both sides are wrong. As for Canberra, reduction of the public sector will flow through the whole economy, where are the Labor members fighting for their constituents - have not heard much from Gai or Andrew. Humpries had a go and was knifed by Zed, have not heard a word from him either.
    Canberra is a popular target for selfish uncaring politicians, on all sides, to use to try to garner votes in the rest of the country. “Pox on all their houses”

    Commenter
    Irene
    Date and time
    August 12, 2013, 9:48AM
    • No Irene,I strongly disagree. It is a recognition that you don't solve unemployment problems by taxing the productive with the unproductive. Every public servant is an invisible tax on the rest of Australia, and the centralists Howard,Rudd and Gillard did the nation no favours filling all the buildings Keating emptied.Huge federal bureaucracies like Health and Education are just duplicating state responsibilities. In my industry we have more than one public servant to every licensed operator,in what is essentially a cottage industry. And on a user-pays basis, how is that sustainable? Every productive job the public service costs this nation means less dollars to pay Canberra wages. The European model is coming home to roost, sorry Irene time to reconsider your opposition to job cuts.

      Commenter
      Michael M
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 10:06AM
    • Both sides will reduce public service staffing. The main difference I see is that the Liberals want to wind back some of the legislation that Labor brought in, which would then mean less public servants are needed. Labor is cutting staffing without cutting legislation meaning the remaining public servants will need to do more (or some things will just not get done).

      Commenter
      James Daniels
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 10:30AM
    • You say "Pox on all their houses". I think I'll go with the DLP as a protest against the establishment.

      Commenter
      C of Southside
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 12:31PM
  • Yes and Abbott has admitted they're planning to shaft between twelve and twenty thousand and relocate whole departments. I love the crackpot idea to move the CSIRO to Karattha, obviously we have to punish those pesky climate scientists. Liberal ideology focuses on small government at a Federal level. They have plans to hand over all responsibility for Education and the environment to the states, a ludicrous idea. Placing more environmental powers in Campbell Newman in charge of environmental decisions is a dangerous move. He will immediately permit mining, drilling etc whenever and wherever his mates want. It took Canberra several years to recover from Howard's razor gang and Malcolm Fraser's before that. Anyone who has lived in Canberra for any length of time knows that a Coalition government is a disaster for Canberra. I have a friend in the real estate game who believes property here will drop by twenty percent. Abbott will be an extreme right wing, divisive PM. RIP Canberra.

    Commenter
    Lasseter's Brief
    Date and time
    August 12, 2013, 10:19AM
    • Homes drop by 20%! Stop it, stop it! I can't breathe........mate you should be on stage!! LMAO!!!

      Commenter
      BBA
      Location
      Banks
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 10:47AM
    • BBA. Yes, homes dropping by twenty percent, a senior real estate agent. If you take up to twenty thousand jobs from Canberra plus the impact that will have on the business sector which caters to the public service will have a devastating impact. The restaurants which cater to public servants, etc, et, etc. I am not being alarmist at all. I disagree with Labor's cuts but by comparison the Coalition's will have much bigger repercussions. Look at the statistics. It took house prices here six years to recover from Howard's cuts. Hope you don't have a house to sell any time soon.

      Commenter
      Lasseter's Brief
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 10:57AM
    • A 20% drop in real estate prices is conservative, but your friend is in real estate so this would be a best case scenario. Canberra and Australia as a whole already has a giant Ponzi scam real estate bubble that is dangerously poised to unwind spectacularly. We are no different to the rest of the world, in fact our personal debt levels are much higher. Really the only difference between a labor-greens and liberal federal government is liberal will bring this drop forward slightly. It is inevitable whoever wins government, the only ones who will deny are the real estate mouth pieces on here.

      Commenter
      Pete
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 11:04AM
    • @Lasseter's Brief: Even if the Australian government shed 20,000 jobs, we'd have to assume that only about 8000 of those jobs would be from the ACT (maybe a little more, depending on how the cuts were implemented). Most of the Australian government's workforce (60 per cent) is based interstate. A tiny little ray of sunshine for Canberra!

      Commenter
      Markus Mannheim
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 11:06AM
    • BBA is very pro real estate as ALL his previous comments will make clear. I guess history will show who was right and wrong here. I'm thinking if our real estate market is already going backwards more job cuts can only spell one thing!

      Commenter
      PP
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 11:12AM

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