Dr Nicholas Horne and Deirdre McKeown
Australian Public Service
Background—APS staffing and efficiency dividend
Excluding contractors, the Budget gives an estimate of 257,376 average staffing level (ASL) for agencies in the general government sector (GGS) for 2013–14 and a revised estimate for 2012–13 of 256,631 ASL (down from 258,027 in the 2012–13 Budget excluding contractors). ASL is not a headcount but rather a figure showing full-time equivalent staffing levels.
In the lead-up to the Budget it was reported that the government would be making public service expenditure savings of approximately $580 million over four years, potentially in relation to APS staffing levels in the executive strata. Prior to the Budget, staffing reductions were also reported for some agencies.
As noted in Budget Review 2012–13, the 2012–13 Budget imposed an increased efficiency dividend of 4.0 per cent on agencies for the 2012–13 financial year only; the increase was expected to result in savings of $1.5 billion over 2012–15.
2013–14 Budget measures
Public service staffing
Over the course of the 2013–14 financial year the Budget estimates:
- total ASL reductions of 4,120 ASL for GGS agencies and
- total ASL gains of 4,865 ASL for GGS agencies including increases in military and reserve personnel (2,858 ASL excluding increases in military and reserve personnel).
Overall, including increases in military and reserve personnel, the Budget estimates a net increase of 745 ASL from 2012–13 levels (256,631 ASL). Excluding increases in military and reserve personnel the Budget estimates a net decrease of 1,262 ASL from 2012–13 levels.
The largest projected individual ASL reductions for 2013–14 are for the Department of Human Services (-1,341 ASL), the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (DCCEE) (-483 ASL), the Department of Defence (-247 ASL excluding contractors), the Australian Bureau of Statistics
(-236 ASL), the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (-234 ASL), and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (-230 ASL). Together these account for 67.3 per cent of the total estimated ASL reductions for 2013–14.
The largest projected individual ASL gains for 2013–14 are for Department of Defence military and reserve staff (+1,524 and +483 ASL respectively), the Australian Taxation Office (+508 ASL), the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (+358 ASL), the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court (+217 ASL), the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIICCSRTE) (+181 ASL), the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (DRET) (+139 ASL), and the Attorney-General’s Department (+129 ASL). Together these account for 72.8 per cent of the total estimated ASL increases for 2013–14.
The Budget indicates that some projected ASL changes (for example those for DCCEE, DIICCSRTE, DRET, the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court) are related to transfers of responsibilities or functions.
Savings and funding measures
The efficiency dividend rate will decrease from 4.0 per cent in 2012–13 to the original annual rate of 1.25 per cent. The Budget identifies various savings including:
- $295.2 million over 2013–17 across portfolios arising from reduced expenditure on APS executive-level staffing ($148.4 million); lower property costs through reduced office space requirements for new leases, buildings and major fit-outs ($63.8 million); efficiencies associated with the transfer of DCCEE functions to DIICCSRTE and DRET ($14.6 million); and efficiencies associated with expanding the online AusTender procurement system ($68.4 million)
- $102.6 million over 2013–17 in the Human Services and Immigration and Citizenship portfolios through streamlining service delivery administration
- $88.4 million over 2013–19 in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade arising from temporary staffing reductions in 2013–14, efficiencies in overseas estate management, and closure of the Australian Embassy in Hungary
- $80.0 million over 2013–17 in Health Workforce Australia through program rationalisation efficiencies and
- $62.4 million over 2012–17 in the Department of Human Services arising from process, transaction and communications efficiencies.
As well as savings, the Budget commits funding to expanding the national Telepresence video conferencing system to further reduce travel expenses ($19.3 million over 2012–17) and to the creation of a whole-of-government web-based system to manage government grant advertising, applications and reporting ($9.1 million over 2013–17).
The Budget also commits $21.4 million over 2013–17 for the Fair Work Commission to provide a right of recourse for victims of workplace bullying. This partially implements a recommendation of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment’s inquiry report on workplace bullying.
The Opposition has foreshadowed a number of changes in relation to the APS if it is elected to government at the 2013 federal election. These include:
- a reduction in staff numbers of some 12,000 over two years through natural attrition in order to realise savings (first announced May 2010)
- establishing a Commission of Audit to review government operations and identify savings and
- abolition of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency (in March 2013 the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency was merged with the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism).
Paid parking in the Parliamentary Zone
The Budget includes a commitment to introduce paid parking on national land in the ACT suburbs of Parkes, Barton, Russell and Acton:
The Government will introduce paid parking to all Australian Government owned car parks on National Land in the ACT suburbs of Parkes, Barton, Russell and Acton from 1 July 2014. This is estimated to generate revenue of $73.3 million over three years and will help alleviate congestion in the area and allow visitors increased access to cultural institutions.
The National Capital Authority (NCA) will administer the introduction of paid parking with capital funding of $8.8 million over two years for the installation of pay parking machines and the upgrade of selected car parks. The NCA will also receive funding of $1.9 million over four years for ‘operational requirements associated with the introduction of pay parking’.
The debate over paid parking in the Parliamentary Zone has continued for some decades with the NCA conducting a number of inquiries and public consultations. Most recently, in July 2009, the then Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, convened an Intergovernmental Committee (IGC), chaired by the NCA and including representatives from the federal and ACT governments, to review paid parking in the Parliamentary Zone, Barton and Russell.
The IGC released a discussion paper in November 2010 and a parking consultation report in May 2013. In the latter report, the IGC noted a range of objections to the introduction of paid parking including a lack of alternative transport options and a lack of services and amenities in the precinct. The paper also noted that submissions from government departments identified Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) as an issue and the implications of the tax should pay parking be introduced. The NCA has invited public comment ‘on the allocation of car parks for long stay and short stay on National Land from 1 July 2014’.
The new pay parking policy ‘covers around 9,000 car spaces on national land’ and will include departments with government-owned car parks such as Defence, Treasury, Finance, Prime Minister and Cabinet and Attorney-General. The introduction of paid parking will also have an impact on parking at national institutions that control their own car parks: Parliament House, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, High Court of Australia and the Australian War Memorial. To date there has been no indication whether or not these institutions will adopt ‘government policy in the management of their car parks’. Without paid parking these institutions ‘may be liable for fringe benefits tax for their staff having free parking’.
A number of departmental enterprise agreements (EA) expire on 30 June 2014. It is likely that when negotiations on new EAs commence the issue of the car parking FBT may be raised.
Reaction to the introduction of paid parking has been varied. Member for Canberra, Gai Brodtmann, believes that the lack of amenities in the Parliamentary Zone must be examined before paid parking is introduced. The Canberra Times has reported that, in view of Ms Brodtmann’s recommendation, the Joint Committee on the National Capital and External Territories ‘is asking Territories Minister Catherine King to give the go ahead for … [a] new inquiry’.
ACT Senator Gary Humphries, who has campaigned against the introduction of paid parking, said ‘public servants paying for parking would effectively lose a salary scale’.  The Member for Fraser, Andrew Leigh, supports the policy but said ‘he understood the concerns of those who worked in the Parliamentary Triangle’.
The ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, supports the introduction of paid parking but believes the revenue raised should be used to support the NCA or the national institutions. She said ‘[a]ny line that it gets sucked into consolidated revenue is not acceptable to me’.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has not commented on the paid parking policy announced in this Budget but has previously expressed concerns about the introduction of paid parking in the Parliamentary Zone.
. The budget figures in this brief have been taken from the following document unless otherwise sourced: Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2013–14, 2013, pp. 6–58, 6–71–6–76, accessed 16 May 2013. The general government sector ‘comprises all government departments, offices and some other bodies’ and ‘provides public services that are mainly non-market in nature and for the collective consumption of the community, or involve the transfer or redistribution of income’: ibid., p. 9–13.
. The increase was an additional 2.5 per cent on the existing annual rate of 1.5 per cent. Australian Government, Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2012–13, 2012, p. 1–13; Australian Government, Mid-year economic and fiscal outlook 2011–12, 2011, p. 216; Australia, Parliamentary Library, Budget review 2012–13, Research paper, 2011–12, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2012, pp. 107–09, accessed 16 May 2013.
. Budget strategy and outlook: budget paper no. 1: 2013–14, op. cit., pp. 6–75–6–76.
. Ibid., pp. 156, 290.
. T Abbott and J Hockey, Transcript of joint press conference, media release, 8 May 2013, pp. 2–3, accessed 16 May 2013; Australian Government, Amendments to the Administrative Arrangements Order, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 25 March 2013, pp. 2–3, accessed 16 May 2013.
. Budget measures: budget paper no. 2: 2013–14, op. cit., p. 18.
. Intergovernmental Committee; IGC Parking consultation report, 14 May 2013 p. 12; see also Intergovernmental Committee, Discussion paper on parking management in Parkes, Barton and Russell, 6 November 2010, on NCA, ‘Have your say on your national capital’, NCA website, accessed 15 May 2013.
. IGC, Parking consultation report, ibid., p. 10. See Australian Taxation Office (ATO), ‘Car parking fringe benefits’, ATO website, for information on the payment of the car parking FBT, accessed 15 May 2013.
. Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), ‘ACT parking’, CPSU website, accessed 16 May 2013.
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