Would-be recruits are waiting for Eric Abetz. Photo: Andrew Meares
Tens of thousands of would-be graduate recruits into the Australian Public Service have been languishing for months in employment limbo, waiting for the Abbott government to allow departments to offer them jobs
Departmental bosses have told the young hopefuls around Australia that no decisions can be made until Public Service Minister Eric Abetz gives his permission. Departments have been waiting since May for the minister's go-ahead.
Job seekers are complaining their career or study options are now on hold after an arduous applications process requiring months of cognitive testing, written assessments, video and panel interviews and other assessments that have required travel from all over Australia to Canberra.
The long wait for news continues as the government prepares to force young job-seekers to apply for 40 positions every month.
"This delay is screwing everybody," one frustrated graduate complained in an online forum.
The 2013 graduate program hired 1263 young people and with a recruitment freeze in place and mass redundancies sweeping the service, it remains the only way to secure a full time permanent job in the Commonwealth bureaucracy.
Each year's graduate intake attracts applications from tens of thousands of the nation's best and brightest with jobs at the most sought-after departments, such as Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Prime Minister and Cabinet attracting hundreds of hopefuls for each position.
But applicants for the 2015 have been waiting since May for a decision about their job applications.
Frustrations are beginning to boil over with one applicant, who did not wish to be named for fear of his job prospects, saying the delay made a mockery of the bureaucracy's stated aim to "streamline" its recruitment processes.
The Health Department has stated frankly to applicants that it did not know when it might make offers.
"We cannot predict exactly when we will be able to make the offers," the department wrote.
"…it is possible the timeframe is extended further."
But the Australian Bureau of Statistics was quite open, in a letter to its applicants, about where the delay was coming from: Public Service Minister Senator Abetz.
"Unfortunately at this stage the ABS is unable to offer any positions until the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service agrees to us doing so," the bureau wrote.
"We are currently awaiting his decision.
"If you have applied for other federal government agencies, and are awaiting an outcome, you will find they are in the same position."
Senator Abetz's office has not responded to requests for comment and the Public Service Commission, responsible for implementing much of the government's public service workplace agenda, had little to say on the subject.
"The Government has interim recruitment arrangements in place," a commission spokeswoman said.
"Decisions about the scale of entry level recruitment in 2014-15 are being finalised."