Allbids.com.au chief executive Rob Evans with surplus government computers at the Fyshwick warehouse. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Forget the cliche: public servants axed from the bureaucracy do not just pile their stuff in a brown cardboard box and glumly walk out of the office.
Being culled from a government gig can be a laborious process of waiting for the guillotine to fall.
And when the time comes to depart, the computer left behind can be sent to help poor African children and the ugly desk it sat on may be cut up to make trendy furniture.
Auction company owner Rob Evans expected public service restructures and cutbacks to create a small increase in supply of perhaps 5 per cent in commonwealth furniture and equipment.
The 43-year-old wants to reach a deal with the Education Department to kit out schools with second-hand government computers.
"I can fit out a classroom for $3000 – we can give every kid in Australia an ex-government PC," he said.
All information including program licences are wiped from government computers before Mr Evans receives them. He rechecks for remnant data before selling them and is negotiating with Microsoft to give the computers new licences to avoid pirating overseas.
Some altruistic people buy up to 100 a week that are packed in shipping containers and sent to developing nations in Africa or south-east Asia.
The bureaucracy's large bland furniture is more difficult to sell but some buyers "chop up the tops of the desks to make furniture".
Rather than a spike in supply, Mr Evans predicted more of a slight increase that could last for three years.
"Nothing happens quickly when these decisions are made," Mr Evans said.
The routine of Ivor Frischknecht, chief executive of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, did not change after the federal budget confirmed the government wanted to abolish his organisation.
Despite Treasurer Joe Hockey's attack on clean energy spending, only legislation passed by the Parliament can kick Mr Frischknecht out of his Nishi building office in New Acton.
Until then, he waits.
"It's always unsettling to have something like this for the staff," he said.
He oversees 80 Industry Department staff who he hoped would be sent back to the department following the agency's abolition to continue managing $1 billion worth of existing projects.
"I think purgatory is too strong a word – people's spirits are very good," he said.
Being chief executive means Mr Frischknecht has less of a safety net because he is not a public servant, but he added: "I'm from the private sector, I'm used to dramatic changes.''
For those people emotionally dislodged by the upheaval, a Public Service Commission spokeswoman said: "The extent of counselling available to each employee is a matter for the employing agency."
The National Blood Authority in Lyneham, which spends $1.1 billion on blood and plasma-derived products a year and employs 60 staff in Canberra, is about to merge with the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority, which employs more than 25 people in Civic.
All of these public servants are still finding out where they will be located and what the make-up of the new organisation would look like in 13 months.
The blood authority's general manager, Leigh McJames, said no dollar savings were being targeted as part of the transition as it was more about streamlining so more effort could be put into service delivery.
"The greater challenge is for other agencies that are dispersed [geographically]," he said.
Organisations that have been defunded will not necessarily stop operating.
The Sydney-based National Congress of Australia's First Peoples cut its 36-strong workforce by two-thirds in the knowledge the budget would be harsh but is not dead after being defunded.
It has about $6 million in savings it can use to stay alive for the next two years while it lobbies potential financial contributors.
The Australian Youth Affairs Coalition based in Sydney will donate its equipment to other organisations.
Chairman Craig Comrie said the group would now be run with volunteers after making six staff redundant, a number of whom left before the budget.
"We're not thick – we knew the government was going to be cutting in our area," Mr Comrie said.