Budget fails to deliver for public sector

The Federal Budget does little to repair the damage that is being done to Australia’s essential public services and public policy capacity, according to the Community and Public Sector Union.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said the budget measures represented a continuation of short-sighted and unfair cuts to public services.

“Since 2013 the Coalition Government has made $7.6 billion worth of public sector cuts, hollowing out essential services, policy capacity which has resulted in service delivery and policy failures,” Ms Flood said.

Staffing changes

Agency 2016-17 (Actual) 2017-18 (Estimate) Change from 2016-17 % change
Department of Human Services 29,835 28,647 -1,188 -4.0%
Australian Taxation Office 17,901 18,043 142 0.8%
Department of Defence 17,350 17,970 620 3.6%
Department of Immigration and Border Protection 14,000 13,755 -245 -1.8%
Australian Federal Police 6,288 6,137 -151 -2.4%
Foreign Affairs and Trade 5,726 5,806 80 1.4%
CSIRO 4,995 5,063 68 1.4%
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources 4,531 4,488 -43 -0.9%
Department of Health 4,642 4,398 -244 -5.3%
Australian Broadcasting Corporation 4,160 4,111 -49 -1.2%
Australian Bureau of Statistics 2,894 2,486 -408 -14.1%
National Disability Insurance Agency 1,849 2,460 611 33.0%
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science 2,450 2,410 -40 -1.6%
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 2,075 2,061 -14 -0.7%
Department of Environment and Energy 1,947 1,972 25 1.3%
Department of Employment 1,877 1,949 72 3.8%
Department of Social Services 1,984 1,942 -42 -2.1%
Department of Veterans’ Affairs 1,896 1,853 -43 -2.3%
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation 1,772 1,835 63 3.6%
Department of Education and Training 1,870 1,821 -49 -2.6%
Attorney-General’s Department 1,836 1,736 -100 -5.4%
Department of Finance 1,318 1,257 -61 -4.6%
Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions 410 390 -20 -4.9%
National Archives of Australia 390 375 -15 -3.8%
Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies 152 121 -31 -20.4%
Based on Table 2.1: Estimates of ASL of agencies in the Australian general government sector from 2017-18 Budget Paper 4: Agency Resourcing


Key features

Efficiency Dividend: No change to this annual cut of agency budgets, remaining at 2.5 percent during Financial Year (FY) 2017-18 before dropping to 2 percent in 2018-19 and 1.5 percent in 2019-20. This is estimated to result in between 3,000 and 4,500 additional jobs losses.

Major DHS cuts: The Government will cut Department of Human services staffing by 1,100 positions, resulting in increased workloads and longer customer wait times.

Outsourcing: The Government has ignored calls for more permanent Centrelink staff and instead will pilot using a private contractor with 250 contract call centre staff. The Government has decided to outsource Department of Immigration and Border Protection call centre work to a private sector provider, putting more than 100 jobs at risk and raising privacy and accountability concerns.

Defence jobs win: CPSU welcomes Government moves to clamp down on expensive consultants and contractors saving $304 million. Some of these savings will fund an extra 640 public service staff in Defence.

Win for cultural institutions: CPSU’s #FundOurCulture campaign is continuing to pay off with the Government allocating $48.5 million over three years in the 2017-18 Budget to support Australia’s national cultural collections.

Decentralisation: CPSU has cautiously welcomed the introduction of tighter standard criteria to ensure agencies have a sound business case for relocating Departments or functions from Canberra or other major cities to regional Australia.

Shared services: The Government will spend $123.9 million to speed up the move to shared services and the consolidation of corporate services and IT systems for an additional 60 agencies into six corporate services hubs. The CPSU will seek more information on the impact of these measures on staff.

ICT upgrades: $129.6 million will be spent over three years to upgrade out-dated ICT systems and other assets, including the $48.5 million for national cultural collections.

Overseas allowances: The Government will cut $37 million over four years by ‘standardising’ overseas allowances. Members in DFAT, DIBP and DAWR may be affected. CPSU is seeking an urgent briefing on this issue and has concerns that these changes may leave some members worse off.

Win on Australian Hearing: Following a strong campaign from the CPSU and other community groups, the Government has decided to maintain full ownership and control of Australian Hearing.


“There are far more logical and sensible targets for real savings that could be reinvested into jobs and services, starting with the astronomical amounts spent by the Government on contractors and highly paid consultants,” Ms Flood said.

“The Government could also be doing a lot more on tax and revenue. While it has tinkered with negative gearing in this Budget, the reality is big corporations are getting a tax cut and the very wealthy continue to use loopholes and rorts  so they pay little or no tax at all,” said Ms Flood.

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