Markus Mannheim October 24, 2012
The federal government has offered the bureaucracy a slight reprieve from its austerity drive, funding an extra 1300 full-time jobs this financial year.
This week's mid-year budget review set aside an additional $95 million to pay public servant wages compared with the amount unveiled in the budget in May.
Customs and the Taxation Office will receive most of the extra money, as they will need to recruit more staff to beef up their compliance activities.
However, it is unlikely Canberra will benefit much from the change, as most of the two agencies' workforces are based interstate.
The bureaucracy is still expected to shed almost 3000 full-time jobs during 2012-13, although this is far fewer than the 4200 predicted back in May.
The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook does not report its estimated effects on government staffing, although it does reveal changes to the total wages bill.
Assuming that the average public servant's salary rises 3 per cent this financial year, in line with most wage agreements, the $95 million equates to about an extra 1300 full-time-equivalent jobs.
The government says the extra recruits will improve its bottom line as they will help it catch tax dodgers. Customs will receive about $4.3 million a year to hire border staff, who are expected to net the public an extra $11.4 million a year in duties and excise.
The Tax Office, meanwhile, will gain about $140 million a year, and in return has been asked to track down another $840 million a year in avoided tax.
Tax commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo told his staff yesterday that while the agency had gained funds, ''the additional funding comes with additional work''.
''The overall financial position for the ATO is still very tight and we need to continue to focus on finding efficiencies to be able to manage within our budget,'' he said.
The Community and Public Sector Union's national secretary, Nadine Flood, said the budget review showed that spending on staff could improve the government's financial position.
''With budget pressure likely to continue, a strategic investment like this is a sensible move,'' she said.
''Our members have been pushing the 'cuts hurt' message with politicians and we are glad it appears to be getting through.''
She would now ask the agencies to ensure that any new, skilled recruits were given permanent rather than temporary jobs.
Finance Minister Penny Wong's office said last night the government's focus was on cutting waste, not jobs.
''There are some measures in MYEFO which will add staff in priority areas, and this will be taken into account when agencies produce staffing plans as part of the annual budget process,'' a spokeswoman said.
The extra $95 million is to spent on wages and salaries, and excludes superannuation, equipment and other human-resources costs.
The number "3000" in the fifth paragraph was originally "2000". This was a typo.