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Plans by the Abbott government's Commission of Audit to cut tens of thousands more federal public service jobs remain on the table following Tuesday’s budget cuts.
The bureaucracy faces a nervous six months until the "third and most comprehensive phase of consolidation in the number of government bodies", to be announced by the government in the mid-year budget update handed down around November.
Minister for the Public Service Eric Abetz said on Friday night the wide-ranging public service cuts were a matter of great regret and had not been taken lightly.
In an interview on ABC TV he defended the small amount of infrastructure spending in the ACT by the Abbott government and said the Community and Public Sector Union had to act responsibility to avoid further cuts.
"I would like to think that the CPSU will constrain its wage demands to ensure that [further cuts] do not occur," he said.
His comments came as new Finance Department figures show Treasurer Joe Hockey's budget axe will fall quickly on the Commonwealth workforce: 8200 full-time public service jobs – nearly half the total slated losses – to go by July next year.
Many public servants in agencies or programs earmarked for abolition by the Commission of Audit but spared by Tuesday's budget believe they have no more than a "stay of execution" after the federal government said that much of the commission's plans were still being considered.
The plan by Commission of Audit chairman Tony Shepherd to farm out Centrelink's payment system to private sector players is tipped by unions to cost more than 15,000 jobs at the government’s largest department, Human Services.
No plans were included in the budget, but Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the proposal would be considered after the budget.
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Proposals for the merger, abolishment and consolidation of service across the public service, with the potential for more mass layoffs, are still being mulled, according to the Finance Minister’s office.
A senior official in one agency slated for the chop by the audit commission said no colleagues were confident of the long-term survival of their workplace, even after it avoided abolition in Tuesday's budget.
"There’s no sense of relief here," the official said. "It feels more like a stay of execution."
Mr Abetz said he felt for Australian Public Service workers who would lose their jobs.
"We regret that these decisions need to be made, but unless we make these displacements now there'll need to be even more later on," he said.
The Minister said the decision to relocate a number of departments outside Canberra was a practical one and part of the Coalition's policy of decentralisation.
"It is something the fishing industry, for example, and it's just a small element and we have made no decision, but they say why on Earth is the Australian Fishing Management Authority in Canberra?" he said.
"If we spread the benefit of public service employment around the nation I think that is a good public policy position."
The Finance Department figures show a relative lull after the 8200 full-time positions are shed over the next year, with 1800 jobs slated to go in 2015-16.
But 2016-17 is forecast to be another a tough year for the public service when a further 5000 workers would head for the exits.
The department’s modelling predicts just 1400 jobs to be cut in the current financial year, but Public Service Commission figures show that 1122 rank-and-file public servants had been paid redundancies in the first six months of the year already.
About 125 of the elite senior executive service had taken generous "incentives to retire" packages during the same period.