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Public servants told 400 must go

The Federal Department of Health and Ageing will shed up to 400 public servants.

The Federal Department of Health and Ageing will shed up to 400 public servants. Photo: Tamara Voninski

The federal Department of Health and Ageing will shed up to 400 of its public servants in the next 12 months.

Staff in the department have been told that budget cuts inflicted by the government have made the job cuts ''an urgent task'' and they have been warned of even more pain to come.

Canberra is expected to bear the brunt of the decision to slash nearly 8 per cent of DoHA's workforce, after workers were told the department could not afford to keep its present number of employees.

Departmental secretary Jane Halton told the department's 5200 employees by email that Health needed fewer bosses and more rank-and-file workers, writing that the new staffing profile would be on ''lower classifications''.

Health has more than 2000 executives at levels 1 and 2 and more than 150 senior executives, according to its most recent annual report, and more than 3500 of the department's workforce are based in the national capital.

Ms Halton said that the government's recent decision, to raise its efficiency dividend from 1.25 per cent to 2.25 per cent, meant the department had to start shedding staff.

''Recent government announcements of a further reduction to Executive Level and Senior Executive Service staff across the APS and subsequent increase to the efficiency dividend makes this a more urgent task and will require us all to work together,'' Ms Halton told staff.

''This year's business planning process has highlighted that, with no extra reductions, our 2013-14 budget allocation does not support our current staffing numbers or profile.

''To meet our budget we need to decrease our staffing numbers across the department by around 400 (full-time equivalent) positions over the coming year. We also need to position ourselves for further efficiency dividend reductions starting in the 2014-15 financial year.''

Despite making ''progress'' in improving the department's top-heavy structure, Ms Halton wrote that DoHA still had work to do about its ratio of bosses to workers.

''Over the past couple of years we have had a focus on improving our ratio of EL (executive level) staff to APS (Australian Public Service) staff,'' she wrote.

''While there has been some progress made, we have not achieved the ratio required and we need to keep working on this.''

Ms Halton said that voluntary redundancies were a possibility but there was no mention of forced redundancies.

''We must assess whether natural attrition will enable us to meet our staffing and numbers target,'' she wrote.

''I acknowledge that it may become necessary to consider further voluntary redundancies and we will keep you informed about this possibility.''

Another major department, Defence, imposed a hiring freeze last week and a decision announced in July to cull 800 workers from the executive and senior executive ranks of the public service is also expected to hit Canberra hardest.

The main public sector union the CPSU says the latest increase in the efficiency dividend will see up to 5000 public servants join the dole queue

Ms Halton's office did not respond to a request for an interview on Wednesday.

34 comments

  • But hang on?? Aren't the Liberals the only one to slash jobs?? Oh this must be more lies from the Labor Party!!!

    Commenter
    Shogunmatty
    Location
    Reality
    Date and time
    August 15, 2013, 9:29AM
    • 45% of APS workers in Canberra are executive level or above (see APSC statistical bulletin) earning a total package of between $115,257 and $343,532 (see APSC remuneration report). End this sense of entitlement to the rest of the country's tax dollars.

      Commenter
      Denis B
      Date and time
      August 15, 2013, 11:26AM
  • you see Labor don't cut staff, they apply an "efficiency dividend".
    JG and Rudd have both increased it, where do they think the efficiency comes from, staff of course.

    Commenter
    anyfella
    Date and time
    August 15, 2013, 9:51AM
    • 400 jobs - it's a start!

      Commenter
      Steve
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      August 15, 2013, 9:52AM
      • Oh yeah, good one Steve, lay the boot in! Remember the 29 abattoir workers in Cowra, 650 job losses at Ford Australia, with more to come. Terrible for their families isn't it. Hard working Australians ... You bet! Which part of the Canberra economy do you work in? Because you're about to have 400 fewer potential customers!

        Commenter
        Jeff
        Date and time
        August 15, 2013, 10:29AM
    • 400 more jobs to go by Labor in the ACT and we have not even reached election day yet plus the thousands Labor have cast off by stealth in the ACT during the last 5 years.
      Now this is the part I like, as sure as God made little fishes all the outraged ACT already redundant and those that would be redundant citizens will still vote for Lundy, Brodtmann and Leigh and thats a fact and where I come from thats called 'BLOODY STUPID' so please, please no carping about it next year when nothing but nothing has changed for the better.

      Commenter
      SORRY BUT TOTALLY GIVEN UP ON LABOR.
      Date and time
      August 15, 2013, 10:10AM
      • A+

        Commenter
        Simple Simon
        Location
        Reid
        Date and time
        August 15, 2013, 10:45AM
      • It's the old less to do more trick.

        Commenter
        OLD DOG
        Date and time
        August 15, 2013, 12:00PM
    • At the risk of having half of Canberra baying for my blood, what do they do? Some are responsible for policy,but seriously 5200 employees? At a conservative $70 k a year package that is $364 million on wages alone, when you add in rent, office expenses,travel how much of our health budget is not spent on doctors,nurses and hospitals.
      Considering the states probably exceed Commonwealth spending on health bureaucracy how much money isn't trickling down to the "coal face"? And then at regular intervals we read or see how the government won't fund someones medicine or treatment because it's too dear.
      To those whose employment is at risk I am genuinely sorry,but we have to get this nation back on a sound financial basis

      Commenter
      Michael M
      Date and time
      August 15, 2013, 10:22AM
      • Yep and guess what will happen. Get rid of these staff that supposedly do nothing, then next year there will be, for example an aged care facility in the news failing to take proper care of its residents and people will be calling for blood that there wasn't enough oversite of the facility.

        Or you have a program to install pink bats into houses, but you don't have enough people (read public servants) to ensure oversite of the program and to ensure those doing the work are capable. End result is calls for the PM's head.

        Basically a lot of public servants are doing useful things in program delivery and like any private company you also need back end staff and in government policy staff too.

        Commenter
        Jimmy
        Location
        CBR
        Date and time
        August 15, 2013, 12:59PM

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