Joint Media Release

Building A More Sustainable Public Service

MC 37/14

Senator the Hon. Eric Abetz
Minister for Employment
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service

Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Acting Assistant Treasurer

13 May 2014

The Abbott Government is honouring its commitment to build a more sustainable public service that is effective, efficient and accountable.

As a result of careful decisions about functions, priorities and the proper scope of government, we anticipate over the four years to 2017, the Australian Public Service will reduce by 16,500.

Around 14,500 of these reductions are the result of Labor’s secret, unfunded, across-the-board cuts which they initiated just before the last election.

Another 2,000 are the result of decisions taken by the Government in the 2014-15 Budget.

Unlike Labor, we have not sought to impose major indiscriminate staff cuts across all portfolios.

The largest reduction in public service jobs will be in the Australian Taxation Office. The Government has brought forward reductions previously planned for 2015-16 by one year, which will assist with the broader effort to repair the Budget.

Other reductions in staffing levels in the Budget are the result of efficiencies in the back-office operations of government. For example, overlap in corporate areas is removed and staffing efficiencies achieved in this Budget as a result of consolidating AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and consolidating the key parts of the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, the Arts and Sport into the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

Some of the reductions in staffing levels are offset by temporary short term increases in particular areas to manage the early implementation of particular policy priorities.

In the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for example, there is a particular need to better manage the legacy of Illegal Maritime Arrivals in Australia inherited from the previous Government.

Also, through the Department of Human Services, the Government is undertaking major structural reforms, including requiring young people with a capacity to work to earn, learn or Work for the Dole.

The Budget forecasts for the 2014-15 year will see total staffing in the General Government Sector return to the level last recorded in 2007-08, down from the peak reached under Labor.

The Abbott Government has already implemented measures to manage Labor’s largely indiscriminate cuts in a more structured manner, including funding the resulting redundancy payments, to ensure that the operations of agencies is not compromised.

The interim recruitment arrangements the Government announced on 31 October 2013 continue to ensure we achieve the forecast reductions.

The sensible and orderly policy measures announced in tonight’s Budget will lead to better and more sustainable outcomes for the Australian Public Service and better value for money for taxpayers.

The Budget is part of the Government’s Action Strategy to build a strong and prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia.

[ENDS]

Media Contact(s): 

Minister Cormann - Karen Wu - 0428 350 139
Minister Abetz - David Allender - 0457 590 881