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.