Commonwealth public service shrinking, too

In a speech in Brisbane today, Treasury Secretary Dr Martin Parkinson made some astute comments on the growing imbalance between the demands the public places on government and the public’s willingness to pay for government services:

What will be required – of governments at all levels – to meet the community’s demand for new spending, will be more revenue or significant savings in other areas. In short, the public will need to make thoughtful decisions about what it wants government to provide, and how it expects these things will be provided.

What is clear is that we will have to do more with less. Increased fiscal and budgetary constraints will mean agencies – Treasury included – must continue to find efficiencies and will become smaller, even as the expectations of what they can deliver do not fall commensurately. As with a number of other agencies, we’ve already started the process of downsizing and will continue to find efficiencies over the next few years. Indeed, we are reducing staff numbers by over 20 per cent by mid 2014, a reduction that some business stakeholders are already noticing.

I expect consultants and contractors will do very well out of our downsized public services, once the immediate budgetary pressures are over.

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