Turnbull Budget chooses ideology over good government

The CPSU says the Turnbull Government has again chosen ideology and distraction over sensible policy decisions in this year’s Federal Budget.

Treasurer Scott Morrison’s likely final Budget before the next Federal Election continues the Government’s destructive approach to Commonwealth agencies and their ability to provide quality public services, policy advice and regulatory oversight.

The most damaging elements in the Budget include accelerated privatisation and outsourcing, with the Government maintaining their Average Staffing Level cap on the public service, funding new initiatives but with no public service jobs. Examples include:

  • Cutting 1280 jobs in the Department of Human Services, a 4.5% cut in staff providing Centrelink and Medicare services, with Government signalling expanded use of multinational Serco or another private company, calling this ‘changes in workforce composition’.
  • ASIC taking on more work with the Banking Royal Commission but 30 staff axed, a 1.7% cut.
  • ATO taking on a major role in the Black Economy yet getting only 41 staff, a 0.2% increase.
  • An extra $86.8m to biosecurity yet the Department of Agriculture 36 staff to go, a 0.8% cut.
  • Treasury staff cut with an unspecified amount of ‘commercial-in-confidence’ funding for private corporations to write tax and other legislation.


The Government has also cut ABC funding by $83.7m, cut the National Archives, clawed back $256.3m from Home Affairs and maintained the damaging Efficiency Dividend.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said: “This is a smoke and mirrors Budget from the Turnbull Government, continuing the Coalition’s ideological obsession with selling off critical public services to big business and undermining the kind of public sector capacity that’s needed to run a good government.”

“The Government has continued to wreak havoc on the public sector in this Budget, on top of the 18,000 jobs already cut under the Coalition. The Budget maintains destructive policies including the so-called ‘efficiency dividend’, the arbitrary cap on Commonwealth staffing numbers and the ballooning use of contractors, consultants and labour hire.”

“The headline grabbing claims of tax cuts and a supposed Baby Boomers bonanza boils down to the Government giving with one hand and taking away the same and more with the other. A tiny tax cut for a struggling family is still going to leave them worse off if it’s funded by slashing Medicare, Centrelink and other critical public services they rely upon.”

“It’s impossible to reconcile this Budget with the Prime Minister’s announcement last week of a major review of the Australian Public Service. How can this Government pretend to care about the quality of public services, policy advice and regulatory oversight when it continues to attack the very fabric of the APS? This Budget means further damage will have been done before the APS Review is completed.”

“The situation in the Department of Human Services is just one example of how this Budget is designed to pursue the Government’s ideological agenda rather than help ordinary Australians. The Government has sliced and diced this agency, cutting another 1280 jobs, despite having 55 million calls that went unanswered last year. It’s a pattern that’s repeated in many departments struggling after years of cuts.”

“The Coalition is now perversely using the damage it has caused in DHS as an excuse to further privatise call centre work, meaning paying more to line the pockets of a multinational company like Serco, which then delivers inferior services while further boosting its profits through inferior pay and dodgy working conditions. DHS urgently needs thousands more permanent, decent jobs for in-house staff, not a dodgy labour-hire arrangement.”

“This is a pre-election Budget and it clearly shows that a change of government is the only way to return to an effective public sector that is focussed on providing decent services and supporting good government rather than continuing the Turnbull Government’s big business bonanza of selling out critical services.”