In today’s edition of The Australian newspaper there appeared a piece with the headline “Slash the public service, says IPA.”
The piece referred to an occasional paper released today, found here, which examines trends in commonwealth public service growth over the past century, and critically assesses current proposals to rationalise the size of the public service (i.e., Gillard’s 3,000-odd jobs reduction target vs Coalition’s 12,000 jobs reduction via natural attrition 2010 election commitment). The paper explains why reductions in public sector employment, as part of a broader strategy to reduce the size and scope of government, are necessary, and offers a tripartite framework (privatisation, transfer entities to the states, outright abolition) to more effectively manage the need to reverse the growth in bureaucracy.
One of the features of the paper is that it examines the 3,000-odd commonwealth public sector job cuts, announced by the Gillard government in the 2012-13 Budget, in the broader context of the overall size of the public service and staffing turnover in recent years. As the following graph shows (shown in last week’s edition of the IPA weekly email “Hey, What Did I Miss?”), the announced cuts are a mere drop in the ocean of public service growth over the last decade:
What will we expect to see in MYEFO today? Surely, some program cuts, some nominal reductions in back-office agency costs (e.g. travel, consultancies), and definitely a nasty tax surprise here or there. But, if I were a betting person, I wouldn’t wager on any additional reductions in public sector employment of any great magnitude, thus consolidating the staus of government sector employees as a protected species shielded from the winds of fiscal responsibility.