More public sector sackings expected in Budget

 By Julian Bajkowski
Federal public servants are bracing for a fresh round of job cuts after pre-Budget scene setting by the Gillard government confirmed around $580 million savings aim to be extracted from the bureaucratic machinery.
The projected savings have triggered warnings from the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) but are understood to be broadly in-line if not below adjustments expected by senior bureaucrats.
The combination of a yawning Budget deficit combined with the increasing probability of a change of government offers many bureaucrats at upper-middle to senior levels the opportunity to extract handsome up-front redundancies while being able to sell back their services at a premium through greater use of consulting and privatised policy development roles.
Federal public servants initially felt the brunt of cuts following the election of the Howard government in 1996 and the subsequent prosecution of a whole-of-government information technology outsourcing agenda.
Although successful in trimming headcount, the move was subsequently acknowledged to have sacrificed too much control to outsourcers like IBM and EDS who did not always deliver the savings or rises in productivity that were expected.
While the Gillard government has heavily touted the National Broadband Network, MySchool and the Digital Education Revolution as key policy elements, the majority of online government services remain essentially passive because they still cannot process transactions now common in private enterprise.
The automation of processes like transactions has been a key driver in the disruptive forces that online businesses have exerted over their ‘bricks-and-mortar’ peers because of the increased speed of business and much lower staff overheads.
The ability to create similar forces in the government remains a key opportunity to reduce costs and increase productivity but has been stalled by governance issues surrounding cheap and secure shared infrastructure like cloud computing that was initially passed over by the Gershon review into the Commonwealth’s use of information technology.
Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has previously indicated that the government’s new cloud computing and digital economy white paper would be released after the Budget, a move that could potentially shift more power to the Department of Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy at the expense of the Department of Finance.
However there are already signs the public service is shrinking following the application of the dreaded ‘efficiency dividend’ and the anticipation of regime change.
Official figures from the Australian Public Service Commission has shown a decline of around federal public service 2400 positions to 165, 598 in December 2002 compared to over 168,000 six months prior.
Those reductions follow mass sackings of public servants in Queensland and New South Wales.

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2 thoughts on “More public sector sackings expected in Budget

  1. Hi I would hope that there is a support mechanism or program to assist these people to get into or back into the private sector. Their skills would be invaluable and Government needs to support private enterprise to increase their income not deplete it through employing people out of the private sector as has been done for many years.

    Greater responsibility and decision making for profitable outcomes will generate from the private sector where the key to sustainable business is: Do it cost effectively and do it well. Revenue and taxes within revenue and taxes is creating situation that has Australia in the bracket of 49% of the population are children, elderly, incapacitated unemployed or on some form of study incentive and 51% are in the workforce with 29% of those working in Local State or Federal Government. It can’t work with the new money coming from business and industry with only 21% bringing home the new money and we will continue to be in a deficit situation until we build the numbers in business and industry. All these trip overseas mean little for the actual workers (importers/exporters) but more red tape. All of this can be done with technology (Skype etc) and does not require gravy train trips at great expense. Well anyway…that’s what I think.

  2. Bill Shorten and Julia Gillard’s savage cuts to the bones should send a shiver up the spine of every Australian.

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