Federal budget 2017: More job cuts and outsourcing for Canberra

Federal budget 2017: More job cuts and outsourcing for Canberra

Canberra public servants can look forward to hundreds more job cuts and fresh rounds of outsourcing in the 2017-2018 financial year as the full impact of Tuesday's budget begins to bite.

Hundreds of job cuts have been reported at the health Department, Immigration, key indigenous education agency IATSIS as well as the nearly 1200 jobs slated to be cut from the Department of Human Services.

Liberal senator Zed Seselja says the budget contains "massive investment" in Canberra.

Liberal senator Zed Seselja says the budget contains "massive investment" in Canberra.

Photo: Graham Tidy

Tuesday's budget papers also reveal that $5.5 million is to be spent in an effort to improve Human Services' woeful record in answering its Centrelink phone lines, but the 250 full-time positions expected to be created will be outsourced to private providers.

One of the few areas of public sector growth will be in Gosford on the NSW central coast, where the Australian Taxation Office is having to recruit an extra 142 public servants to fill a new taxpayer funded office block being built to fulfil a Liberal campaign promise.


The budget was not well received in the ACT, which is not to see any projects under the $75 billion in finance and investment in infrastructure promised on Tuesday night with the territory government saying the capital had been short-changed.

But local Liberal Senator Zed Seselja insists that the Turnbull government's fourth budget contains "massive" investment for the capital.

In his section of the budget papers, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said there would be more "contestability" of government services, or opportunities for private players to bid for work, as he looks to save an average of $830 million a year from the public service for the period from 2014 to 2021 and $2.3 billion in the years to 2027.

The budget papers show the Health Department preparing to shed 244 jobs "due to the department downsizing the workforce through a number of mechanisms including a voluntary redundancy program."

The Immigration Department will have 245 fewer full time jobs this financial year because "of net movements in measures and operational pressures" in the previous year.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies look set to lose 20 per cent of its 150 staff, with a spokesperson for the institute saying its strategy was to replace some of its public servants with "specialist contracted staff."

In one bright spot for Canberra public servants, the Defence Department's plans to hire up to 850 new staff in the next two years will be offset by a reduction in the numbers of contractors at the giant department.

Mr Seselja rejected the idea that Canberra had been ignored in the budget, saying the city would see a "huge investment" from the $500 million public service "modernisation fund", which was announced in last year's budget, and various infrastructure projects.

"The Turnbull Government will provide $48.5 million over three years in the 2017-18 Budget to support Australia's national cultural collections," Senator Seselja said.

"Capital works to maintain important local infrastructure will receive an investment of $31.4 million.

"Also included in the modernisation fund is $16.4 million for key infrastructure upgrades to the National Library of Australia including the Trove Collection.

"The National Museum of Australia will receive $8.9 million to establish a cultural and corporate shared services centre to provide shared corporate and business services functions to other collecting institutions."

The senator said there was $3 million in the budget to design duplications of Monaro Highway and Pialligo Avenue.

"The Infrastructure Investment Program...will invest a further $25.3 million in the ACT which takes the total to $370.8 million from 2013-14 to 2020-21," he said.

"Through the Roads to Recovery Programme the Government will invest a further $5.3 million into specific local roads In Belconnen, Gungahlin, Pialligo, Weston Creek & Woden"