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Public servants cash in on jobs cull

The Abbott government's cull of public service jobs is proving to be a cash bonanza for some top bureaucrats in Canberra who are scoring golden handshakes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Three assistant departmental secretaries, a first assistant secretary and two other high-ranking executives were among the latest round of 128 redundancies to be officially notified, taking generous ''incentive to retire'' packages on their annual salaries of up to $270,000.

The high flyers are among 74 of the bureaucracy's elite "senior executive service" to leave their departments and agencies since July 2013.

Most of them will then be able to access some of Australia's most generous super provisions, while seeking work elsewhere.

Do you know more? Send your confidential tips to ps@canberratimes.com.au

The Attorney-General's Department has parted company with two of its assistant secretaries and a first assistant secretary under section 37 of the Public Service Act. Section 37 payouts are based on up to 48 weeks' salary, together with any outstanding entitlements and money owed for the previous year's work.

The Attorney-General's Department notified about 30 redundancies this week with most of those departing on executive level bands 1 or 2, with their payouts based on salaries of up to $171,000.

Section 37 redundancies, which have to be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Public Service Commission, have been controversial in the past with concerns that taxpayers' money was being wasted on big payments to senior bureaucrats who were on the cusp of mandatory retirement.

An analysis by The Canberra Times last year of five years' data, detailing 8760 redundancies, shows most payouts (62 per cent) under the Rudd and Gillard governments were given to staff aged over 50, and more than one in five to employees over 60.

A redundancy payout can also boost, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of dollars, the pensions of public servants who are aged 55 or over and members of the now-closed Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme.

The government paid out $261 million to departing public sector workers in the 2012-13 financial year, and it will have to exceed that figure in each of the four forward estimates years to fund the projected cuts of 14,500 jobs.

Elsewhere in the service, the Environment Department has notified about 50 redundancies among its Canberra workforce and departures were also notified from the Industry, Immigration and Treasury departments.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General's Department said it would be able to manage its workload, despite losing more than 40 workers to redundancies since July.

"Forty-one AGD staff have taken voluntary redundancies/incentives to retire over the past 6 months," a departmental spokesman said in a statement.

"The department uses a range of strategies to manage its workload when vacancies occur."

The department did not respond to questions about how much had been paid on redundancies.

37 comments

  • 48 weeks salary, what's wrong with the dole while they look for another job.

    Commenter
    bg
    Date and time
    January 20, 2014, 11:43PM
    • The same can be said for Ford and Holden employees.
      Their employed under similiar retrenchment conditions, ie their payout is based on the number of yrs they have been employed up to a MAXIMUM of 48 weeks.

      Commenter
      Jane2
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 11:31AM
    • The excuse for the tax system is "fairness" so where is the fairness when some of us work and pay tax and others just hoover up 48 weeks of lush pay using my money and grubby excuses. Why aren't we being urged to phone Crimestoppers as this is no different to burglary.

      Commenter
      bg
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 11:52AM
  • The size of bureaucracy in this country is a joke. It beggars belief how much money is spent on people working in the Federal, state and local governments. Do we really need all of these Assistant Secretaries, Sections Heads, etc? How can we afford it?

    Government is the most efficient way of wasting money.

    We need a Tea Party here!

    Commenter
    Cash cow
    Date and time
    January 20, 2014, 11:54PM
    • Abolish territory and state governments. They are form a bygone day of horses and carriages.
      Abolishing them will save Australia $50 Billion per year, forever.

      Commenter
      stoney
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 9:22AM
    • See how well the country would run without public servants... The most efficient solution is to get rid of state governments. Beef up local councils and get rid of the duplication between state and federal governments.

      Commenter
      PeterP
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 9:39AM
    • Local councils are the least efficient layer of government.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 10:38AM
    • Cashcow - we do have a tea party in Australia, and it is in national government.

      Commenter
      Sue
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 10:47AM
    • Cash cow I wittnessed the almost 4 year ridiculous wind up of an ACT government department because a single buearacrat thought it should happen, not because it was a good idea.
      I wittnessed the consultant company brought in to wind up this department finally accept a sale price of less than 50% asked then present the ACT government with a fee of almost the amount recovered.
      BLOODY JOKE.

      Commenter
      SHUT UP WHEN I'M INTERUPTING
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 11:01AM
    • I seem to recall 6 months of no government in New Zealand, this was about ten years ago. It didn't seem to have any effect on anything.

      Commenter
      bg
      Date and time
      January 21, 2014, 3:00PM

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