Government clocking up huge public service redundancy bill


Public sector cuts over the past few years are continuing to send the government’s redundancy bill sky high, according to the Public Service Association.

The latest Human Resources Capability Survey of government departments by the State Services Commission shows $33 million dollars was spent on redundancy payments in the year to June, compared to just $11.7 million four years ago, and $7.7 million six years ago.


Last year $39 million was spent and the year before that $40 million.


PSA National Secretary Brenda Pilott says “while the figure is starting to track down, it is astounding to think that in the past three years the government has spent $112 million pushing people out the door.”


“It’s a perverse outcome for a government which is pushing an austerity agenda for the public service, but hardly surprising given we’ve now had almost five years of departmental budget cuts and endless restructuring.”


The PSA says it’s ironic, that against the backdrop of big redundancy payments, government figures shows on the public service staffing cap shows numbers are up and sitting just one below the cap of 36,475 full-time positions.  The information also shows that the cap could be exceeded by June next year.


Brenda Pilott says it highlights the difficulty departments have had operating within the cap.


“The cap has always been about cuts and the fact we’re now seeing numbers going back up shows that departments have not been able to meet the government’s ambitious better public service targets without proper levels of resource and capacity.”


“The staffing cap is a blunt tool which should not be used to measure the performance or effectiveness of the public service.” 


“Another consequence of the cap is that many departments have been forced to use contractors in a bid to get around it and are also hiring more staff on fixed term arrangements,” she says.