[ Canberra Times ]

Up to 100 more jobs to go at Australian Bureau of Statistics

Date: March 20 2017


Noel Towell

The troubled Australian Bureau of Statistics is to axe another 80 to 100 of its public servants, staff were told on Monday.

The Community and Public Sector Union says the Bureau has officially notified it that between 80 and 100 staff will be offered voluntary redundancies, with budget cuts blamed for the decision.

The new cuts come come in the wake of 120 ABS staff who were axed after a similar process announced late last year.

The job cuts are the latest in a string of bad news stories for the Bureau which finished last financial year more than $36 million in the red, is still dealing with the fall-out from August's dramatic Census debacle and ongoing financial strife.

Late last year, Chief Statistician David Kalisch said data collection on foreign ownership of agricultural businesses, industrial disputes, motor vehicle sales, livestock slaughter, and crime offenders and victims, could all stop because of the financial pressures the bureau faced.

Staff were told on Monday afternoon that management was looking for "expressions of interest for a voluntary redundancy as part of a continued planned approach to meet our agreed staffing numbers, transform our workforce for the future and manage effectively within our budget.""ABS is consulting, and will continue to consult, with the CPSU on VRs, and has provided formal notifications to the CPSU and Centrelink in accordance with legislative requirements."

The message from Samantha Palmer, an ABS General Manager in the People, Culture and Communication Division, went on to identify where priority would be given for voluntary redundancies.

"The identified areas are: business Centre employees, Census employees who will be displaced when their current Census role finishes, data acquisition and provider management outside of Geelong and staff in the Sydney, Brisbane, and Darwin offices as these offices have larger proportions of displaced staff than other ABS offices," Ms Palmer wrote to her colleagues.

CPSU Deputy Secretary Melissa Donnelly said the Bureau, whose performance has taken a mauling in the wake of last year's Census debacle, could not sustain more losses.

"The ABS is being stripped of more than 200 staff in less than six months," Ms Donnelly said.

"That's a completely unsustainable blow, especially given the recent and well justified scrutiny on the bureau's performance."

"Just like last year's cuts, this fresh round of redundancies has been forced on the ABS by the Turnbull Government's short-sighted and frankly ludicrous budget decisions.

"Even before these jobs started going the impact of those cuts was clear in last year's Census debacle and longer-running issues with employment figures and other data.

"Our members in the ABS are highly qualified individuals who work tirelessly to produce data that's critical to effective government and also an invaluable tool for business and beyond.

"Cuts this deep unfortunately must have an impact on the ABS's effectiveness and that will have wider implications.

"The ABS is continually being forced to make decisions solely based on the size of its budget shortfall, with the importance of providing useful and accurate data seemingly an afterthought for the Turnbull Government."