The Abbott Government says it will be able to save nearly $500 million when it axes a total of 76 government bodies in this evening’s budget.
Reports suggest that a further 36 government bodies will be signalled for closure or merging, on top of the 40 already on the chopping block. It has been estimated that this will mean 16,000 public service jobs will disappear as the Abbott Government works towards a smaller, more streamlined government. Government bodies expected to be closed entirely include the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the COAG Reform Council, the National Water Commission and the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Business Policy Advisory Group.
Organisations which are being targeted for sell off by Treasurer Joe Hockey include the Royal Australian Mint and Defence Housing Australia.
These privatisations were recommended by the National Commission of Audit, and the Community and Public Sector Union has estimated this will cost Australia at least 25,000 public service jobs.
Other cultural institutions which are likely to have their back-office functions combined include the National Archives, National Film and Sound, National Gallery, National Library, National Museum, National Portrait Gallery and Old Parliament House.
Reports also suggest that the National Water Commission and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency will also be disbanded.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has explained the closures and reshuffling, saying that there are almost 1000 different Commonwealth bodies, many of which are not efficient or which overlap in their tasks. “It is quite extraordinary when we were told on coming into government that nobody could actually tell us exactly how many different individual government bodies there were,” he told the ABC News.
Read more at the ABC News website.
While I support amalgamating government bodies which may be performing similar or the same tasks, or trying to streamline the managerial process, axing or amalgamating a total of 76 departments in one go seems ludicrous. Such massive changes are going to create a logistical nightmare, one which I don’t believe the Government is fully prepared to handle. It also seems as though bodies which perform specific tasks and whose staff I’m sure have specialist knowledge, will be amalgamated with other ‘similarish’ groups, suggesting that the Government is trying to create a workforce of jack-of-all-trades, masters of none.
The other point to consider in this is that while the job market in Australia is in better shape than many other countries, finding work is still not a walk in the park and competition for jobs is going to become fierce. Injecting 16,000 new people into the job market isn’t going to help matters. And many of those who will be made redundant live and work in Canberra – will they have to move themselves and their families away from friends and support networks to find employment?
To me this seems to be too much, too soon, and I fear it is everyday Australians who will suffer the consequences, not those making the decisions.
What do you think? Is streamlining the Government an important step in reducing red tape and costs? Or is this going to be an administrative disaster?