APS job cuts, what’s really going to happen

pepmeup 8 May 2013 92

Over the past election cycle I have heard just about everything about what is going to happen to the APS, after the inevitable election of an Abbott Federal Government. In recent days Tony has said he will move APS jobs to regional areas, Big Joe has been saying for months that the coalition will cut the APS. You here numbers like 20,000 jobs from Canberra, then 12,000 jobs nationally. You here that the ALP have already cut 5,000 jobs.

I don’t work in the APS but like most others in Canberra the business I work in does rely on a strong APS to survive. I know that retail is doing it really hard in Canberra, so I guess I want to know, what is confidence like in the APS at the moment? Are people worried about job loses? Why aren’t people spending?

In closing does anyone trust that Zed will look after us after September?


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92 Responses to APS job cuts, what’s really going to happen
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devils_advocate devils_advocate 1:23 pm 08 May 13

zorro29 said :

ha, how pitiful are you? yes, cos how people write on forums and social media is an /exact representation/ of their intellect or how they write in /all/ situations…i have an IQ of 168 so thanks for your sturdy analysis.

IQ of 168… got job in APS.

Winning at both life and plausibility.

rosscoact rosscoact 1:20 pm 08 May 13

Deref said :

“You here numbers like 20,000 jobs from Canberra…”

I hope that none of the job cuts involve teachers.

😀 just so you know it’s not completely missed

zorro29 said :

c_c™ said :

zorro29 said :

retail rely on the APS? more like “have a captive audience so gouge away for poor quality”….

i would like to see a huge purge in the APS cos a large portion of people are useless and many jobs have no impact on anyone (or could be performed by fewer people)…and impacting the retail sector would be an added bonus cos you’ve had it way too good for way too long – the pricing for quality/service/range is outrageous (for everything). if you provided honest and good value output, i might feel bad for you…but, alas, you don’t.

i work in the APS and no one is particularly nervous about cuts…cos they know either way they get a massive payout…they’re more nervous about shifting portfolio responsibilities and the resulting machinery of government changes.

Yeah, like anyone is going to take someone who can’t capitalise ‘I’ and uses the phrase ‘cos’ seriously. At least you prove there is some fat to be trimmed from the public service.

ha, how pitiful are you? yes, cos how people write on forums and social media is an /exact representation/ of their intellect or how they write in /all/ situations…i have an IQ of 168 so thanks for your sturdy analysis.

#11 – that’s State Govt genius

Well your edudite argument convinced me

A_Cog A_Cog 1:08 pm 08 May 13

When Howard came in in 1996, he cut the APS by 35,000 – but then he increased it by 47,000. And when he ‘cut’ the APS, that doesn’t mean all those people lost their jobs, just that the entities they worked for were no longer ‘government agencies’. If they privatise Medibank Private, Australia Post, SBS and the ABC, and other government-run businesses, that is called a ‘cut’ to the APS.

If Abbott cuts 12,000 public servants working for line departments, and he has said this will be through natural attrition, then no-one really loses their jobs. And if he offers VRs, then again, people don’t get ‘fired’.

But if the commission of audit cuts federal functions (like social housing) then that WILL mean job losses. So DoHA, DEEWR, DICCSRTE, FaHCSIA, and other departments could fire staff – but with redundancy packages. That wouldn’t be great for someone trapped inside. But even then, there’s hope.

Apparently heaps of APS workers have been holding off from applying for VRs under the current downsizing of departments, waiting for packages after the change of government. So even then, if DoHA etc do downsize, many people will take packages, leaving empty seats for those staff who want to stay in the shrunken departments.

Remember three things: (1) QLD, NSW and Vic cuts to the public service have been tremendously unpopular, so any cuts will be muted; (2) privatisation is hated by the voters, and; (3) countries which have recently implemented austerity budgets have triggered recessions – even New Zealand.

So seriously gutting federal functions and staff will bite a new government.

Now, you’d expect a Rhodes Scholar who studied economics at university to know this last point, but that is up for debate. Maybe they’ll use deficit panic and a deliberately triggered recession to fundamentally restructure Australia (think workchoices on steroids AND ice, and a darwinian health/education/housing/welfare system for the poor like the USA), but that’s just a [conspiracy] theory.

zorro29 zorro29 12:42 pm 08 May 13

c_c™ said :

zorro29 said :

retail rely on the APS? more like “have a captive audience so gouge away for poor quality”….

i would like to see a huge purge in the APS cos a large portion of people are useless and many jobs have no impact on anyone (or could be performed by fewer people)…and impacting the retail sector would be an added bonus cos you’ve had it way too good for way too long – the pricing for quality/service/range is outrageous (for everything). if you provided honest and good value output, i might feel bad for you…but, alas, you don’t.

i work in the APS and no one is particularly nervous about cuts…cos they know either way they get a massive payout…they’re more nervous about shifting portfolio responsibilities and the resulting machinery of government changes.

Yeah, like anyone is going to take someone who can’t capitalise ‘I’ and uses the phrase ‘cos’ seriously. At least you prove there is some fat to be trimmed from the public service.

ha, how pitiful are you? yes, cos how people write on forums and social media is an /exact representation/ of their intellect or how they write in /all/ situations…i have an IQ of 168 so thanks for your sturdy analysis.

#11 – that’s State Govt genius

EvanJames EvanJames 12:40 pm 08 May 13

The recent statements about going after the various qangos and non-quangos delivering various services I found rather interesting. Qangos and non-profits sprang up after Howard, as they were favoured to deliver services and policy; they could be contracted and paid to do something, and then cut loose if necessary.

It was interesting to hear entities like Medicare Local named as one to go, as that is actually the re-badged Australian General Practice Network, AKA The Divisions of General Practice. They came up with the Primary Healthcare Network, sold the idea to the Labor government, and then got to set it up and be it. So I’m wondering if it’s the program Medicare Locals/PHCN, or the whole organisation, which has been around in various forms since the 90s.

I’m genuinely puzzled by their targetting qangos, it’s frustrating when they cynically bleed out snippets of information, and no properly-forumulated policy. I guess it worked for Howard, and they’re obediently following their training. I think they’re probably going to do a lot of damage.

Deref Deref 12:35 pm 08 May 13

johnboy said :

Not very many teachers employed by the APS.

Well there’s your problem right there!

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 12:28 pm 08 May 13

Dilandach said :

The figure that I’ve heard those close to the decision makers is for the ACT it’ll be 4% across the board cut of APS positions in the ACT for the first round with the insinuation that there is more after.

but yes, JC is correct. Its the merry-go-round of the APS and change of government that always happens. Team blue come in, say the APS was full of waste under team red, cut positions but then find they can’t handle the workload and then need to hire contractors which they pay higher rates for. Then to reduce costs those contractors are offered APS positions. Then team red come in and say the APS is full of waste under team blue… and around and around we go.

With serious and repeated talk of a Commission of Audit, a la Queensland, I expect there certainly would be specific, and possibly quite significant, cuts following any initial across-the-board cuts. After the cutting and squeezing of the last few years, even an initial cut of 4% would surely be felt, unless there is a genuine reduction of functions, and the flow-on effects to the private sector, particularly businesses which rely on discretionary spending, will not be pleasant. One saving grace may be that stagnant or falling housing prices may discourage some (early) retirees from leaving Canberra, in the hope of an eventual recovery in the market.

EvanJames EvanJames 12:26 pm 08 May 13

DrKoresh said :

I wouldn’t trust Zed to look after a pet rock, JS.

OK, that gets the Mars Bar for best comment.

thebrownstreak69 thebrownstreak69 12:25 pm 08 May 13

johnboy said :

Big cuts mean some people leave town. So real estate gets a break. Homeowners need to sit tight for a few years.

But thousands of public servants with a big payout in their hands will chance their arm starting a new business.

And in a couple of years, if history is any guide, they’ll be back in their old jobs as contractors earning even more.

It’s a time of flux, but also some significant opportunity.

That’s a good summary.

EvanJames EvanJames 12:22 pm 08 May 13

I’m watching the whole thing with interest. Abbott and Hockey learnt their trade from Howard. When Howard took over in 96, he came in behind many years of Hawke/Keating Labor government, so the APS was fairly plump. I can’t remember the eventual numbers but the figure of 20,000 is in my head, of federal public servants who lost their jobs as a direct result (this included many thousands from the CES, which had over 300 offices nationally, and all lost their jobs).

However, this time, Abbott gets the APS which has had cuts imposed via efficiency dividends every 6 months, since Rudd. Rather than cutting programs, they’ve been just removing money from departmental budgets and making them chip around the edges to trim expenditure. So it’s been on things like staffing, travel, stores, temporary staff and contractors, rather than strategic savings.

Anyone watching APS recruitment over the past 3-odd years will have seen the numbers of jobs shrinking, and many positions being contract-style.

So, with Abbott and Hockey spruiking all the blood they’re going to let, I’m wondering, when faced with the reality of a much thinner APS, and a much larger population than in 96, will they continue with their swingeing cuts? Or will they become strategic, using program cuts to achieve their aim?

As for Zed defending Canberra, you have GOT to be kidding. Like Humphries did? That turned out well.

OTOH, they could move a department out to Quangers, and staff it very easily.

Deref Deref 11:41 am 08 May 13

zorro29 said :

retail rely on the APS? more like “have a captive audience so gouge away for poor quality”….

i would like to see a huge purge in the APS cos a large portion of people are useless and many jobs have no impact on anyone (or could be performed by fewer people)…and impacting the retail sector would be an added bonus cos you’ve had it way too good for way too long – the pricing for quality/service/range is outrageous (for everything). if you provided honest and good value output, i might feel bad for you…but, alas, you don’t.

i work in the APS and no one is particularly nervous about cuts…cos they know either way they get a massive payout…they’re more nervous about shifting portfolio responsibilities and the resulting machinery of government changes.

Please, please don’t sack the teachers.

Deref Deref 11:40 am 08 May 13

“You here numbers like 20,000 jobs from Canberra…”

I hope that none of the job cuts involve teachers.

neanderthalsis neanderthalsis 11:35 am 08 May 13

I seem to recall a Labor leader by the name of Kev pledging to take a meataxe to the public service in the not too distant past. Since then real numbers in many departments have fallen significantly because of the efficiency dividend, natural attrition, terrible workplace culture and poor management. The newly created agencies have held some of the numbers, but recent MoGing would have seen Climate Change whittled down to 3 hippies and an economist anyway.

The truth is that there is a LOT of dead wood and bloated job roles in most departments. I (from outside the APS) commonly deal with SES who have no strategic thought process or forethought, EL2s who have little policy knowledge and even less leadership ability, EL1s who perform very basic contract management roles that should really be done by a 4, basic administrative roles are performed by 5s and 4s because 1s and 2s are an endangered species.

So I say to Joe and Tony cut away. Create a lean, effective and productive public service that supports policy implementation and basic front-line services.

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 11:32 am 08 May 13

Relocating public servants is not a new idea and nothing to worry about, in my opinion. It’s a very popular and superficial line – used by both sides of politics – that public servants should be among the “real people” that need services. While some agencies are now primarily based in Melbourne or Sydney, the numbers simply don’t add up when it comes to relocating entire departments.

DrKoresh DrKoresh 11:31 am 08 May 13

I wouldn’t trust Zed to look after a pet rock, JS.

Dilandach Dilandach 11:30 am 08 May 13

The figure that I’ve heard those close to the decision makers is for the ACT it’ll be 4% across the board cut of APS positions in the ACT for the first round with the insinuation that there is more after.

but yes, JC is correct. Its the merry-go-round of the APS and change of government that always happens. Team blue come in, say the APS was full of waste under team red, cut positions but then find they can’t handle the workload and then need to hire contractors which they pay higher rates for. Then to reduce costs those contractors are offered APS positions. Then team red come in and say the APS is full of waste under team blue… and around and around we go.

c_c™ c_c™ 11:26 am 08 May 13

zorro29 said :

retail rely on the APS? more like “have a captive audience so gouge away for poor quality”….

i would like to see a huge purge in the APS cos a large portion of people are useless and many jobs have no impact on anyone (or could be performed by fewer people)…and impacting the retail sector would be an added bonus cos you’ve had it way too good for way too long – the pricing for quality/service/range is outrageous (for everything). if you provided honest and good value output, i might feel bad for you…but, alas, you don’t.

i work in the APS and no one is particularly nervous about cuts…cos they know either way they get a massive payout…they’re more nervous about shifting portfolio responsibilities and the resulting machinery of government changes.

Yeah, like anyone is going to take someone who can’t capitalise ‘I’ and uses the phrase ‘cos’ seriously. At least you prove there is some fat to be trimmed from the public service.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 11:17 am 08 May 13

It may be that the Abbott Opposition is simply being more open about its intentions than was the “relaxed and comfortable” Howard Opposition in the lead up to the 1996 election, but I think there is somewhat more to it than that. I believe there is much more fervour and determination this time, and note that this Opposition frontbench, having been out of power for less than six years, has more people with experience as ministers, junior ministers, parl secs etc. who should thus have a somewhat better idea of where the bodies are buried, so to speak (and thus will be that much harder to snow).

Abbott has so far resisted the IPA forces on his parental leave scheme, but I would guess that he will take much more notice of dry arguments and ideas when it comes to public administration, particularly with less than rosy Budget forecasts for the coming years. It may not be possible to give effect to some of the more radical ideas floating around, but I think an Abbott government will, as the saying goes, not die wondering. I certainly don’t share the sanguine views of those who say that there will just be some trimming, and some shuffling between the public and private sectors, and that any real cuts will be restored over time. This time, I reckon, it really will be different – Canberrans are increasingly sensing that, and are adjusting their spending habits accordingly.

zorro29 zorro29 11:06 am 08 May 13

retail rely on the APS? more like “have a captive audience so gouge away for poor quality”….

i would like to see a huge purge in the APS cos a large portion of people are useless and many jobs have no impact on anyone (or could be performed by fewer people)…and impacting the retail sector would be an added bonus cos you’ve had it way too good for way too long – the pricing for quality/service/range is outrageous (for everything). if you provided honest and good value output, i might feel bad for you…but, alas, you don’t.

i work in the APS and no one is particularly nervous about cuts…cos they know either way they get a massive payout…they’re more nervous about shifting portfolio responsibilities and the resulting machinery of government changes.

    johnboy johnboy 11:11 am 08 May 13

    Big cuts mean some people leave town. So real estate gets a break. Homeowners need to sit tight for a few years.

    But thousands of public servants with a big payout in their hands will chance their arm starting a new business.

    And in a couple of years, if history is any guide, they’ll be back in their old jobs as contractors earning even more.

    It’s a time of flux, but also some significant opportunity.

JC JC 10:44 am 08 May 13

Mostly it is smoke and mirrors. They cut APS then next week employ contractors. It will be different if Abbott gets in with a big purge to show the country he means business but by the end of the first term it will be back to normal. Of course the purge will effect Canberra the most

One point of order what Abbott has being saying this week is not moving jobs to the regions but creating new jobs for the disability insurance scheme outside of Canberra. Slight difference there.

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