Human Services department staff expected to shift 20km to western Sydney remain in the dark as the Coalition government embarks on another "farcical" project to force public servants into moving offices, the main public sector union has said.
The department's Surry Hills office in Sydney city was expected to begin emptying before the year's end as Human Services relocated 100 staff to Parramatta in what Human Services Minister Michael Keenan touted as the Coalition's next effort to spread jobs to regions and outer suburbs.
Nearly four months until the new year, the Community and Public Sector Union said staff at the Surry Hills branch know little of the move's timing or potential impact on their work and families.
Union deputy secretary Melissa Donnelly said the relocation, which followed the Coalition's turbulent project to force the pesticides authority into moving from Canberra to Armidale, showed the government's decentralisation plan was about spin.
"This is causing anxiety and disruption for DHS and its workers while delivering nothing for regional Australia,” she said.
"If minister Michael Keenan bothered to jump on a train to Parramatta he’d soon realise it’s closer to the Sydney Harbour Bridge than it is to the city’s outermost suburbs let alone regional Australia."
Mr Keenan vowed in March the government would work with the union when announcing the move in March, but five months on Ms Donnelly said the move would be costly and should not disguise job cuts the Coalition has made in Human Services.
"The reason why there’s room for these 100 workers at DHS’s Parramatta offices is that the Turnbull government has slashed more than 5,000 permanent jobs from the department," she said.
"Parramatta is an important DHS site and should be boosted with at least an additional 100 staff, but those should be new jobs to repair the damage caused by this government, not a forced relocation of workers from one place to another.
"At the same time as the government’s pretending that forcing workers to relocate to Parramatta is somehow a win for regional Australia, it's in the middle of closing a DHS office in the NSW town of Lightning Ridge."
Human Services said it had been in close consultation with staff since Mr Keenan’s announcement.
"We are seriously considering all feedback and working hard to ensure a smooth transition which we expect will be completed by the end of the year," a spokeswoman said.
A recent Fairfax Media analysis showed despite Coalition promises to move government jobs to regions, inner-city centres on the east coast have amassed the greatest share of Australia's new public service positions since the change of government in 2013.
Under the Coalition government outer suburbs, bush towns and Canberra took cuts to their ranks of bureaucrats.
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce, who championed the pesticides authority's move to his electorate and helped launch the Coalition's broader decentralisation project, in May blasted his own's government's "bullshit" commitment to moving public servants to regional Australia.
The federal budget that month showed while decentralisation would continue as jobs from six agencies moved to the bush, there would be no wholesale movement of the bureaucracy into the regions.