Are public servants overpaid?

 

Public sector earningsOnce upon a time, public servants accepted lower rates of pay compared with their private sector counterparts in exchange for job security and generous superannuation conditions.  It now seems there is no trade off and they actually receive higher rates of pay but still have job security and generous superannuation.

I was prompted to think of this because of something that Adam Creighton had written about the much lower rates of pay of UK civil servants and their disbelief about how generous are public sector rates of pay in Australia.

I also have in the  back of my mind the absurdly generous parental leave provisions that apply to public school teachers in NSW – where leave is paid at the full-time rate even if the teacher has been working part-time and, wait for this, is paid at the full-time rate even if the teacher has not gone back to work and has another child!

I decided to take a look at the overall figures.  Take full-time average weekly ordinary time earnings.

  • Private sector – $1411 per week
  • Public sector – $1539 per week

This is a gap of over 9 per cent.

Of course, there are lots of confounding variables in this comparison – different occupations, different qualifications, etc.  But here’s another interesting finding – the gap for females (private v public) is much higher than for males.

I then decided to have a look at some of the federal public service agreements.  Wow.  It seems as though an EL 2 (which is below the senior executive service) can earn in excess of $150,000.  And note that superannuation is paid at the rate of 15.4%.

I then had a look at the SES pay levels.  In what can only be described as imaginative featherbedding and pay gouging, there are now three bands of SES and many departments have twice, sometimes three times, the number of SES staff that was once the case.  No longer 2 Deputy Secretaries, many departments have several and now they come by all sorts of fancy names, such as Executive Director.

To my mind, this has been a rort by stealth, packaged up to give the impression of professional service by the public service.  There has been no effective constraint to the explosion of the SES or the salaries they receive (see Julie Novak’s work on this).

Now my figures are a bit out-of-date, but take the total remuneration packages of the SES:

  • SES 1 – $228,000
  • SES2  - $287,000
  • SES3 – $377,000

With the exception of a few private sector positions with little job security and some senior members of the professions, these figures are quite stratospheric.

What I want to know is how we got to this point.   (It is not too different for state public servants. ) I guess weak governments, Labor governments and the ability of the public servants and the unions to pull the wool of the eyes of those ostensibly in charge.  And without paying customers, it is relatively easy to make a (dubious) case that the ‘market’ dictates these rates of pay for hard-working public servants.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

71 Responses to Are public servants overpaid?

  1. blogstrop

    SES salary levels look a lot like ABC salary levels, and are being similarly inflated by goodness knows what means.

  2. Badjack

    It is good to see you have finally opened your eyes to the Public Servants PPL scheme Judith. Now you can, with a clear conscience, call for the removal of their scheme as loudly as you have been with Abbott’s.

  3. Max

    wonder how you get a job there

  4. Andrew

    But to reduce these (obscene) salaries would invoke WorkChoices ™ and to eliminate them would require CutsCutsCuts.

    The Senior Labor Figure is currently out there on his FB feed encouraging people to harass Abbott666 about “cuts.” I’m confused – I thought we:

    a) Are $40bn in the hole (at a time of apparent prosperity, 6 years into a post-Lehman boom, with record low interest rates, near historical commodity prices) when countries like NZ, Germany and Chile are in surplus, AND
    b) Voted for a whole heap of new money-flushing exercises, like the Cash-pissing Formerly Known as Gonski Until David Gonski Asked That We Not Call It That, and NDIS/DisabilityCare.

    Is the SLF suggesting that
    - we no longer want these things, and so we can return to merely pissing away money at the rate that Rudd-Gillard-Rudd achieved (and not $20-30bn p.a. faster), OR
    - that given our current circumstances such things should be fully debt funded, as all good recurrent expenditure programmes should be as a tenet of sound fiscal policy?

    Can we just ask him which of the two it is? If only there was some kind of centrally-funded news source, which could be employed to ask questions directly of elected representatives that are of common interest to many Australians, thereby saving us the trouble of doing so individually…

  5. Alf

    And how much does Prof. Sloan earn? Who pays her?

    Most public servants are not ELs and even fewer are SES. Most are at lower levels. But, yes why should anyone in the pay of government earn a decent wage, especially now that job security is no longer certain? Outrageous.

  6. LM

    As a long term (state) public servant, I well know how overpaid many members are (and over-entitled we all are). Classification creep being a massive contributor to this.

  7. Tekweni

    So public servants should be paid more because their jobs are not secure? By that logic all private sector workers should be paid more than public sector workers as their jobs are never secure.

  8. Rabz

    These salaries are an obscenity and to paraphrase braindead greenfilth, “unsustainable”.

    Way past time a whole bunch of them were sacked.

    And guess what? No one would even notice.

  9. Rabz

    So public servants should be paid more because their jobs are not secure?

    No, you are wrong. By and large their jobs are very secure.

    As Judith has noted, they were generally lower paid in exchange for job security and generous working conditions.

  10. duncanm

    We got to this point because Govt’s caved in (of the ALP’s case, agreed to their terms of payback) to demands for continuous x% annual pay increases, and arguments for ‘equal pay’, despite their unequal perks.

    Private sector pay increases wax and wane with the economic times. The public sector just rolls on.

  11. duncanm

    Alf,

    did you not look at the graph – ‘Average public’ vs. ‘average private’.

    You are disingenuous , or a dimwit.

  12. Ant

    Does a bear crap in the woods?

  13. Megan

    It’s not necessarily evenly distributed though. I’m classified as a (state) public servant in the tertiary education sector. I’m earn around $50K less than what I was getting for the same role in the private sector and I see good people working their guts out for nothing like what the work they do is worth. I also see an enormous number of time servers and bench warmers who are being paid a damn sight more than they deserve. And sacking them is a nightmare of process and red-tape.

    There are good reasons I’ve elected to accept that salary, so I am not in any way complaining. But when I have to deal with some of the bureaucrats on the kinds of salaries that Judith is talking about or read the utterly meaningless drivel issued out of their offices, I do wonder how we allowed ourselves to get to this point.

  14. Peter H

    The balance of risk reward has certainly changed. Their needs to be a recalibration. These people invest no capital, they take no risk, and they get paid more, they have security. Quite frankly it is grossly unfair.

  15. John Comnenus

    Abbott should simply stop paying any new APS person 15.4% Super. That would accrue an ongoing and growing cost reduction over time.

  16. Old School Conservative

    Having worked at junior levels in Federal and State governments before going to the private sector, I can only answer Judith’s question in the affirmative – with the qualifier “at middle to senior levels”. Job security and poor oversight of productivity is combined with high salaries and wonderful working conditions for those who progress up the organisation in return for union dues! This way the taxpayer-funded salaries of public servants go to pay for union campaigns.
    A win – win situation for the unions and public servants. And don’t get me started on the overly generous NSW PS retirement schemes!

  17. Nads

    The public sector provides pretty generous study allowances which are much less common in the private sector. Possibly in the public service, employers have greater scope to recoup this human capital investment. (Be interesting to see the flow of funds from the APS to ANU.) My issue is about the raw numbers of EL2s/SES rather than the actual pay scales. We simply don’t need so many, with some departments looking like placid oceans of middle management. This exacerbates the sense of over compensation with many officers able to idle along. Or worse, a large part of their week having to involve navigating the bureaucratic maze created by other excess staff and fussing over non-issues.

  18. Robbo

    I’m sort of interested in the high pay rate but I’m a lot more interested in the work rate. Do public servants work as hard (or worked as hard) as employees in the private sector? Stupid question isn’t it?

  19. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Alf at 9:41 am:

    “And how much does Prof. Sloan earn? Who pays her?

    Most public servants are not ELs and even fewer are SES. Most are at lower levels. But, yes why should anyone in the pay of government earn a decent wage, especially now that job security is no longer certain? Outrageous.”

    What do your first and second questions have to do with anything?

    “especially now with job security no longer certain” is bullship Alf. Most announced useless public servant job cut targets are satisfied by natural attrition and voluntary redundancies – we don’t see the precious petals herded onto buses to be driven a mile and a half out of town and left by the side of the road.

    Their redundancies attract a handsome payout including payment for untaken grief leave, untaken intimidated-bullied leave (used every time a taxpayer scowls across the counter at them) and untaken résumé updating leave; plus they get counseling for a year for the effrontery of being cast onto the job market to compete for work, and to actually do the job rather than Facebook all day, like normal human beings.

    People such as Tḧȩrèŝé Rein get paid a fortune by the taxpayer to comfort astonished former public servants in the sheltered workshop unwinding process.

    Just over 30% of the workforce are useless public servants. Every man and woman in the private sector between them carries an unproductive public servant on their backs, from layabout firemen to long lunch facilitating First Assistant Secretaries (Media Relations).

  20. Robert Blair

    Is the Pope Catholic?

    Does a bear shit in the woods?

    Does Chuck Norris shit wherever he damn well wants to?

    Does Cinderella wear slippers?

    Does a one-legged duck swim in circles?

    Do New Zealanders like sheep?

    Is a frog’s arse watertight?

    Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?

    Is a witches tit cold?

    Is the atomic weight of Cobalt 58.9?

  21. Mayan

    I worked in the public service for a while, but quit. It was too boring and I’m burdened with self respect.

  22. JC

    Fire them all. No one would feel the impact. Start with the forecasting department at Treasury. Take no prisoners.

    I recall the Government close down in the 90′s during the Clinton era. Towards the latter stage the Administration wanted to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible because, as they read public perception, people weren’t feeling any adverse impact and could get used to a smaller government.

  23. Tel

    Fire them all. No one would feel the impact. Start with the forecasting department at Treasury. Take no prisoners.

    Yeah, most unions hold up strike action as their tool to apply pressure to employers. However public sector unions can’t seriously expect the public (i.e. their employers) to be genuinely worried about lack of work done. Can they? Am I missing a key piece of the picture here?

  24. JakartaJaap

    Max @9.36, first you have to learn the mantras and shibboleths and be able to chant them at the interview, should you have been able to master the arcana of ‘addressing the criteria’. Not intuitive at all. As a footnote the question ‘Are you an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander…?’, which gives you monster edge, should be accompanied by the question ‘Are you of first or second generation descent from a bureaucrat?’ which would mean immediate non-selection. Blood and skin should count both ways.

  25. iamok

    One of the key determinants of high salaries is not only knowing your business internally but also how it fits and works within its critical external markets. Otherwise your area of responsibility will be internally focussed, driven and measured, and will most likely fail.

    And this fellow Cats is where most senior PSers fail. They know little if anything about the markets in which they play, manipulate and inevitably fail.

    What else could explain thought bubble management, consistently erroneous modelling with defensive and childish nitpicking when they are found out. Clean out required. Now.

  26. Health Departments are notorious for stacking hospitals with middle management positions. An incredibly high number of senior nurses are in positions that never existed 20 years ago, and seem to have little to do with actual patient care. It is virtually impossible to contact a senior nurse after lunch most days, as they are attending meetings. The meeting that caught my attention the most was entitled “focus Day”, a monthly meeting requiring mandatory attendance by all charge nurses. Presumably being in charge of a busy, acute care ward isn’t enough to keep nurses “focused”.

  27. Rococo Liberal

    Are public servants overpiad?

    Probably. The problem with this is that we are creating a wanky, whiny bureaucractic machine that will start to suck in people who want high pay.

    We need a public service with very few prestigious jobs .

    The brightest must not be tempted to become unproductive morons

  28. And let us not forget the senior level nurse in charge of hand washing technique!

  29. Megan

    Tḧȩrèŝé

    Mick, I salute you!

  30. JaneS

    Five years ago, I made the move into the public sector from private. I was well into six figures in the private sector but took a 30% drop to go into the public service (I did so for a mixture of reasons: I have a child who is disabled hence I needed a genuine work/life balance but because I also wanted to work for the community I live in and enjoy. I think Australians deserve competent public servants and, after many years lining the pockets of shareholders, I felt that my community needed me to pay something back too).

    There is no question there are lazy public servants. Mouth breathers. Time wasters. They come in, collect a wage and go home. But there are plenty of us who work extremely hard. My day starts at 7am. I leave at 5pm to spend time with the children and then log back into work around 9pm once they are tucked in bed to clean up the day’s work. I’ve forgotten the last time I had lunch other than in my office and in a hurry.

    TLDR; not all of us are lazy dolts. I am proud of my achievements and I’m glad my technical expertise is being used in a way that benefits my fellow citizens. That’s a buzz and a responsibility I don’t take lightly.

  31. Megan

    Getting a reference for a potential new employee requires the completion of a five page form, including asking the referee their view on whether the employee meets each of the key selection criteria. I worked out that it would take, at best, 30 minutes per referee. Who has that much time to devote to helping a former employee get a job? I took five to eight minutes for a conversation which told me all I needed to know and then spent 20 minutes filling in the form. For the six questions on the selection criteria, I simply wrote ‘Yes’

  32. Squirrel

    Sadly, I think the rot in the Federal PS started in the Howard years, with a (presumably) well-intentioned attempt to introduce private sector management practices – which, of course, were quickly de-railed and co-opted to extract maximum benefit and minimise any pain and inconvenience. Part of that was allowing much more scope to increase total remuneration packages, and to increase numbers at senior levels – that continued (until the dying days) under Labor, and included what look like some truly jaw-dropping increases for department heads and comparable positions.

    On top of all of this is the assumption that an annual salary increase, a percent or two in excess of CPI, is the absolute entitlement of public servants – regardless of the state of the Budget or of the national economy. Any suggestion of less is met with outrage and, in some cases, counselling is offered for the delicate souls traumatised at the prospect of a less generous outcome!

    With such growth in PS staffing costs in recent times, it is hardly surprising that numbers are now being squeezed – perhaps if there had not been such greed (difficult to see it as anything else) for increased pay rates and benefits, there would not now be such pressure to reduce numbers.

  33. The Pugilist

    On top of all of this is the assumption that an annual salary increase, a percent or two in excess of CPI, is the absolute entitlement of public servants – regardless of the state of the Budget or of the national economy. Any suggestion of less is met with outrage and, in some cases, counselling is offered for the delicate souls traumatised at the prospect of a less generous outcome!

    Let me also mention that any public servants who speak out against the union’s ambit claim and suggest that pay rise claims should be moderated so as to minimise job cuts are very quickly excluded from the wage bargaining process. This continues until all but a handful of hand picked union flunkies are left. Basically, the union represents itself and does not represent true staff views. Public sector wage bargaining is a farce…

  34. Andrew

    I recall the Government close down in the 90′s during the Clinton era. Towards the latter stage the Administration wanted to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible because, as they read public perception, people weren’t feeling any adverse impact and could get used to a smaller government.

    So few fucks were given during this October’s shutdown that The Kenyan had to actively piss people off by closing open air monuments and the side of the road next to Mt Rushmore. Otherwise nobody would have noticed. And in partial shutdown mode, did they choose to deem as “essential” workers the bloke who collects 1000x his minimum wage at the Statue of Liberty? Nope – close that and forfeit all the revenue. Same thing with the national parks. Old Faithful has managed to sort itself out every 76 minutes for the last billion years, but can’t operate without some seatwarmer at the gate. Too bad if you travelled from Sydney to go there.

  35. Dave Wane

    Yes Judith that was once the case; that public servants accepted a lower rate of pay in exchange for job security and other benefits such as superannuation. And also remember back when I was growing up (1950s and 1960s) that public servants were few and far between. I can even recall asking my Mother what a public servant “is” – after a new kid arrived at our school and declared that his Father was a “public servant”. Prior to that, presumably, most kids at school had parents with good old productive private sector jobs. Of course, all that changed dramatically with the election of the Whitlam Labor Government in 1972. With Whitlam, “Big Government Socialist-Style” government was born, resulting in public servant numbers continuing to grow ever since, today becoming almost as common as the Australian house fly.

  36. Dave Wane

    Yes Judith that was once the case; that public servants accepted a lower rate of pay in exchange for job security and other benefits such as superannuation. And also remember back when I was growing up (1950s and 1960s) that public servants were few and far between. I can even recall asking my Mother what a public servant “is” – after a new kid arrived at our school and declared that his Father was a “public servant”. Prior to that, presumably, most kids at school had parents with good old productive private sector jobs. Of course, all that changed dramatically with the election of the Whitlam Labor Government in 1972. With Whitlam, “Big Government Socialist-Style” government was born, resulting in public servant numbers continuing to grow ever since, today becoming almost as common as the Australian house fly!

  37. Ant

    Does Kevin Rudd nibble on his own snot?

  38. Grace

    I worked in the Public Service for 30 years.
    It never-ceased to amaze me how good working conditions were compared to my friends who worked in the Private Sector.

    One thing that a lot of people do not realise are the benefits women have in relation to maternity leave. If you are a public servant you are entitled to 14 weeks leave at FULL PAY and then the government welfare payment of 18 weeks, this gives women a total of 32 weeks paid maternity leave.

    This is why I support the PPL scheme….why should public servants have more time with their babies than women who work in the Private Sector where the majority only receive the 18 weeks welfare payment????

  39. Cam

    Sadly, I think the rot in the Federal PS started in the Howard years, with a (presumably) well-intentioned attempt to introduce private sector management practices – which, of course, were quickly de-railed and co-opted to extract maximum benefit and minimise any pain and inconvenience. Part of that was allowing much more scope to increase total remuneration packages, and to increase numbers at senior levels – that continued (until the dying days) under Labor, and included what look like some truly jaw-dropping increases for department heads and comparable positions.

    The reason, at least in part, behind introducing these management practices was to provide scope for rewarding high achievers without necessarily promoting them (the aim was to reign in the growth of the number of ELs) . In the Department I worked in (prior to Rudd’s election) it was possible for a high achieving APS6 to earn more than an averagely performing EL1.

  40. Squirrel

    “The Pugilist

    #1234789, posted on March 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    On top of all of this is the assumption that an annual salary increase, a percent or two in excess of CPI, is the absolute entitlement of public servants – regardless of the state of the Budget or of the national economy. Any suggestion of less is met with outrage and, in some cases, counselling is offered for the delicate souls traumatised at the prospect of a less generous outcome!

    Let me also mention that any public servants who speak out against the union’s ambit claim and suggest that pay rise claims should be moderated so as to minimise job cuts are very quickly excluded from the wage bargaining process. This continues until all but a handful of hand picked union flunkies are left. Basically, the union represents itself and does not represent true staff views. Public sector wage bargaining is a farce…”

    Much the same as the unionised bits of the private sector, of course, but at least in the private sector there will, at worst, only be partial taxpayer subsidies – and they tend to run out sooner or later as market realities take over.

  41. Jessie

    What I want to know is how we got to this point? Good luck with your question Judith.

    ?Moving SES personnel around branches/agencies under the merit-based system. Increasing numbers of APS level1-5 under increasing SES positions while decreasing numbers of APS Levels6-8. APS does not reflect ABS classifications descriptions/criteria and thus distorted reporting?

    ABS Cat. no. 1220.0 ANZSCO — Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations, Version 1.2 (26 June 2013) lists eight (8) major Occupation groups. Skill level 1+2 reflects skills required for a Manager. Presumably SES levels are represented across government agencies+functions in the 99 occupations below. No change between 2009-2013 ANZSCO revisions.

    12200 ANZSCO Version 1.2 Index of principal titles, alternative titles and specialisations (table 1):
    4x Major Group- Managers
    11x Sub-Major Group classifications
    38x Minor group classification
    99x Unit group occupations

  42. Squirrel

    “Cam

    #1234826, posted on March 22, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Sadly, I think the rot in the Federal PS started in the Howard years, with a (presumably) well-intentioned attempt to introduce private sector management practices – which, of course, were quickly de-railed and co-opted to extract maximum benefit and minimise any pain and inconvenience. Part of that was allowing much more scope to increase total remuneration packages, and to increase numbers at senior levels – that continued (until the dying days) under Labor, and included what look like some truly jaw-dropping increases for department heads and comparable positions.

    The reason, at least in part, behind introducing these management practices was to provide scope for rewarding high achievers without necessarily promoting them (the aim was to reign in the growth of the number of ELs) . In the Department I worked in (prior to Rudd’s election) it was possible for a high achieving APS6 to earn more than an averagely performing EL1.”

    As I said (presumably) well-intentioned – the undue growth in middle and upper level management was even acknowledged by Labor, with a subsequent push for “re-profiling” – but perhaps it may have been even worse without the flexibility you refer to.

    The rapid growth in public sector staffing costs occurred – so far as I can see – at all levels of government under both major parties. To varying degrees, they are all guilty of wasting part of the boom-time revenues on public sector bureaucracies which were needlessly and unsustainably large and costly – the now necessary adjustment will not be pleasant, and the lost competitiveness of those years can never really be regained.

  43. Ant

    Grace

    Your angle on the PPL scheme is what I find frustrating about public sector remuneration and entitlements.

    You point to how ludicrously generous these are in the PS compared to the private.

    So what’s your solution??

    Hell, let’s go for broke coast to coast! Not, let’s slash these ruinous outlays to public servants, many of whom fulfill completely useless roles where society wouldn’t even blink if many, if not most, got turfed.

    No, the answer isn’t to screw private firms with unsustainable perks just because the stuffed shirts in the bureaucracies are able to pilfer the public treasury through an irresponsible political class.

  44. sabrina

    I am not sure of the workload of those who Judith refers to, may be the pay scale is commensurate with their workload, may be not. I know some of the state government officials, work incredibly long hours, similarly for some (but not all) university academics that I know.

    I see some part-time director’s salaries, in the past and now,are quite in excess of $200000. However, the one that trumps all is the $200000 for 100 hours work in total!

  45. AndrewL

    This is exactly why I will never send my children to a private school. Lower wages and inferior conditions mean lower quality teachers.

  46. I would negotiate for a lower salary if it meant greater job security for me and my colleagues. But I’m not allowed to do that.

  47. pete m

    Do Collingwood supporters have bad teeth?

  48. Monkey's Uncle

    It is good to see you have finally opened your eyes to the Public Servants PPL scheme Judith. Now you can, with a clear conscience, call for the removal of their scheme as loudly as you have been with Abbott’s.

    False equivalence. For public servants, the government is their employer so of course the cost of paying for any employment-based entitlements also comes from the government. This is different from the government paying for such entitlements for everyone, including those that are not employed by the government.

    This is not to defend public service PPL provisions. No doubt many of them are overly generous and often not justified on the basis of productivity etc. But there is still a meaningful distinction between workplace entitlements paid for by an employer and government social transfers window-dressed as workplace entitlements.

    And I am sure that Judith has long been aware of generous PPL schemes in the public sector. So it would help if you could lose the smartarse tone there sport.

  49. politichix

    Grace
    #1234805, posted on March 22, 2014 at 12:35 pm
    One thing that a lot of people do not realise are the benefits women have in relation to maternity leave. If you are a public servant you are entitled to 14 weeks leave at FULL PAY and then the government welfare payment of 18 weeks, this gives women a total of 32 weeks paid maternity leave.

    The dinner table talk among child bearing couples is how to get the woman into a job in the public service. I have seen couples analyse minutely the ins and outs of schemes to determine the most lucrative scenario for their child producing years – how long to be in the job before getting pregnant, time needed back at work before next pregnancy etc. One couple I know thought they had worked out that wife wouldn’t need to go back to work at all while producing 3 children and be paid the entire time! (possibly not true as haven’t done the maths myself but that is their claim)

    Point is, there are many people out there who know exactly what the benefits are and are milking the system for all it’s worth.

  50. hzhousewife

    wonder how you get a job there

    Really really helps when daddy or mummy knows the ropes and can coach you
    through the interviews. And once you are IN you are IN !!

  51. stackja

    Liberty Quotes
    “The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm, capitalism is that kind of a system.” — Milton Friedman

  52. boy on a bike

    I saw the rot set in in NSW in the 1990s when I did a stint. Some SES positions were authorised to recruit some specialised IT staff. After they arrived, suddenly HR and Finance and every other dept suddenly wanted to add some SES positions to their areas in order to attract “high calibre” candidates.

    Of course all that happened is that internal staff got the positions – same idiots at 50% more pay. And then more positions were added to attract more “high calibre” staff. Eventually lots of positions were ratcheted up that way.

  53. Bob

    In the seventies I worked in Defence.

    The system worked this way:

    The NSW Public Service would obtain a pay rise of say 6.5%. The Commonwealth Public Service (CPS) would then claim a long established “nexus” between NSW and commonwealth salaries. This would result in a pay rise for the CPS.

    The CPS would then achieve another pay rise leading to a “nexus” claim by a state public service. And so it went.

    The only ones to miss out were the Defence Forces.

    Treasury would claim the CPS and the Defence forces could not be equated and therefore, a salary increase for the CPS should not flow onto Defence.

    Conversely, if the Services achieved a financially favourable consideration, the CPS would argue that service members and public servants were employees under the crown and therefore, the CPS should benefit from the consideration shown to the services.

  54. Combine_Dave

    Encouraging and supporting the productive and highly skilled to have families….

    Finally social engineerimg one can support :D

  55. 2dogs

    1. Public service positions should be outsourced to labour hire firms.
    2. Vendor selection of those labour hire firms should be by public suffrage.

  56. Paridell

    When constructing a narrative, the picture you start with matters a lot. It establishes what is ‘normal’ in the world of the story. ‘Once upon a time there was a poor fisherman’ sets up a storyline in which the fisherman gains fabulous wealth through sparing a magic fish, only to lose it all. He then returns to what is ‘normal’ in the world of the story.

    In Judith’s version, the starting point is the poor public servant accepting his humble lot in exchange for security: “Once upon a time, public servants accepted lower rates of pay compared with their private sector counterparts in exchange for job security and generous superannuation conditions.” Such an opening establishes what is ‘normal’ in the world of her story, even as it implies that what follows is a fairytale.

    What really distinguishes a public servant’s salary (or that of a soldier or sailor) is not that it is necessarily less than a merchant’s income, but that it does not change depending on profit. Early in Plain Tales from the Hills, Kipling makes the point that every member of the military or the Indian Civil Service knows to the penny what everyone else’s income is. Like the civil servants of those far-off days, Australia’s public servants forego the opportunity enjoyed by the merchant or speculator, namely the chance to make a fortune, but they can also be assured that their income will not fall below an acceptable minimum. That is why public servants were envied in the Depression, when people were glad to have any job at all. But conversely, when a boom is on, public servants tend to be looked down on. Who in Channel 9 wanted to be a public servant in the days when, as just one of his perks, Sam Chisholm could get a new motorbike hoisted into his office?

    It’s now a long time since the last boom years, and so, in the UK, the USA, and here, public servants are once again envied. And again we have the fairytale, “Once upon a time, public servants accepted lower rates of pay compared with their private sector counterparts…”

  57. Infidel Tiger

    Can anyone explain why the public service needs unions?

  58. None

    I have commented on the PS salaries here a few times – perhaps under different monikers. It is a disgrace that AWE are now higher in the public rather than private sector given PS job security and conditions. I have also commented on the high number of women now in the PS. A significant proportion are largely attracted by the benefits – in other words most just want to be there to get their generous mat leave and carer’s leave while the kids are young. They then sod off if they haven’t retired in their jobs from day one. The remainder. Well think Julia Gillard and that’s about the quality of most senior female public servants I’d say.

    I also think the public sector should not be unionised. That is a major contributor to the wages blow out and while Labor remains linked to the unions, a unionised public sector is effectively extortionary and antidemocratic.

    The public sector could be slashed to 1/3 or even 1/4 of what it is today and noone would notice. Except for the extra cash in their pockets.

    God make me dictator for a day.

  59. The Pugilist

    Can anyone explain why the public service needs unions?

    They need a way to get preselected for safe labor seats…duh!

  60. sabrina

    Read this article to see how innovative the politicians are in paying themselves. They do not belong to unions, at least by name.

    Union or no union – some people know how to milk the taxpayers as someone else has said before.

  61. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.

    However public sector unions can’t seriously expect the public (i.e. their employers) to be genuinely worried about lack of work done. Can they? Am I missing a key piece of the picture here?

    Yep. The piece you are missing is called Centrelink. Gotta keep those payments coming.

  62. motherhubbard'sdog

    If you think public servants are overpaid, have a look at the salaries of the mediocre academics who migrate into university administration.

  63. Tel

    Yep. The piece you are missing is called Centrelink. Gotta keep those payments coming.

    Hmmm, so how difficult would it be to replace Centerlink with a robot?

  64. Dave Wane

    Actually, I do not know why anyone needs a union. But I take your point that public servants are on such a fabulous arrangement, that there is nothing they could (presumably) want improved? Of course, their unions always want to go for more – simply to justify their parasitic existence.

  65. honest tony

    “Let me also mention that any public servants who speak out against the union’s ambit claim and suggest that pay rise claims should be moderated so as to minimise job cuts are very quickly excluded from the wage bargaining process. This continues until all but a handful of hand picked union flunkies are left. Basically, the union represents itself and does not represent true staff views. Public sector wage bargaining is a farce.” “I would negotiate for a lower salary if it meant greater job security for me and my colleagues. But I’m not allowed to do that.”
    Oh really? Any employee or their agent can go in an negotiate for themselves under the current legislation. But as they say “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client”.

    “Yeah, most unions hold up strike action as their tool to apply pressure to employers. However public sector unions can’t seriously expect the public (i.e. their employers) to be genuinely worried about lack of work done. Can they? Am I missing a key piece of the picture here?
    Yes, you are missing a key point – start with customs and border protection staff – passports, drug searches at airports etc – and work your way from there.

    For myself, I think I would prefer the private sector – $200k for 100 hours of work and the possibility of a $10 or $20 million bonus! Of course, like the crude characterisation of a public servant set out by Sloan, this is not how it is for most in the private sector.

  66. JohnA

    sabrina #1234840, posted on March 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I am not sure of the workload of those who Judith refers to, may be the pay scale is commensurate with their workload, may be not. I know some of the state government officials, work incredibly long hours, similarly for some (but not all) university academics that I know.

    I see some part-time director’s salaries, in the past and now,are quite in excess of $200000. However, the one that trumps all is the $200000 for 100 hours work in total!

    Sabrina, let them get over it. Private sector employees also work long hours.

    If my humble one-man business could gross some of the figures north of 200K which have been quoted, then I might actually be able to take home a realistic salary.

  67. phil

    Here we go again. Anyone who joined the public sector post 1988 has the same super options as anyone else – no extra benefits.

    Those at the senior level are on a contract and can be cut at any time.

    Pay rates for goverment IT jobs are well below market rates. Pay peanuts, get monkeys so they have to hire contractors at $1450 per day. Big savings there, right?

Comments are closed.