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29 April
Comments Off on Military the big winners, but jobs cull continues

Military the big winners, but jobs cull continues

THE PUBLIC SERVICEMilitary expands, though civilian agencies will lose another 1262 full-time staff next year.Frontline agencies such as Centrelink and Medicare to cop the most job losses.Crackdown on overly spacious offices, unnecessary air travel and duplication of services such as accounting and HR.Study commissioned to examine the benefits of a centralised, government-wide pay deal.
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The Gillard government has softened its squeeze on the bureaucracy, though it will continue to cull public service jobs.

The government says it will employ about 750 extra full-time-equivalent staff in 2013-14, yet that growth is confined to military personnel.

Civilian agencies, such as government departments and statutory authorities, are expected to lose 1262 full-time employees over the next 12 months.

The continuing cuts follow an austere year for federal public servants. Most workplaces were forced to offer redundancies during 2012-13 to accommodate Labor’s economy drive.

Finance Minister Penny Wong says she will now focus on culling middle management and the top ranks of the public service – the mostly Canberra-based staff who earn more than $100,000 a year.

However, the budget papers suggest Centrelink and Medicare, which are the bureaucracy’s biggest employers of junior, lower-paid staff, will cop most of the job losses.

The two frontline agencies are part of the Department of Human Services, which has been told to reduce its 30,000-strong workforce by 1341 full-time employees.

The department is already struggling to shed staff as a result of cuts imposed this financial year, and was forced to delay its voluntary-redundancies program because it was too costly.

In contrast, two workplaces that have been among the fast-growing over the past decade – domestic spy agency ASIO and foreign aid manager AusAID – will continue to expand, albeit marginally.

Further changes to the way public servants work loom as part of the government’s hunt for $580 million worth of new savings over the next four years.

Senator Wong has already unveiled a crackdown on overly spacious government offices, saying she wants to reduce the target amount of space per worker from 16 to 14 square metres. The last audit found most staff had more than 20sqm.

She hinted agencies might, after a preliminary study, share corporate services such as accounting and human resources.

The government will also buy more videoconferencing equipment, to cut the money public servants spend on air travel and accommodation.

“We have driven efficiency reforms across government, including in travel, advertising, property management and IT,’’ Senator Wong said.

‘‘Our approach is in stark contrast to the opposition, who would slash public service jobs by 20,000 and threaten the services Australians rely on.’’

The budget also funds a two-year study of the costs and benefits of rationalising the federal bureaucracy’s maze of wage agreements.

Presently, the salaries of public servants who are employed at the same level can differ by tens of thousands of dollars, as a result of the more than 100 different pay deals.

The Community and Public Sector Union has campaigned unsuccessfully for years to return to a single, centralised wage deal that covers all government staff.

The budget also reveals plans to introduce a standard government contract for all goods or services valued at $200,000 or less, in an effort to cut wasteful spending on legal services.

 
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