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How public service hiring freeze will work

PUBLIC servants on contracts may lose their jobs and their fat-cat bosses won't be replaced amid a hiring freeze to save $3 billion from its COVID-hit Budget over four years.

Treasurer Cameron Dick has asked the 210,000-strong public service to concentrate on creating jobs, building infrastructure, delivering frontline services and "to stop spending on things that aren't a necessity".

Mr Dick announced non-frontline jobs will be capped at about 20,000 with internal recruitment only allowed to fill vacancies for the next 12 months.

Treasurer Cameron Dick shows the media his first pay check, earned working in a Garden City deli. Pic: NCA NewsWire/David Kapernick
Treasurer Cameron Dick shows the media his first pay check, earned working in a Garden City deli. Pic: NCA NewsWire/David Kapernick

Secondment of frontline staff to non-frontline roles will be limited and "to reduce the numbers of highly-paid public servants, some roles will not be filled when they are vacated", Mr Dick said.

The Treasurer confirmed unions were being consulted around public servants on continuing 12-month contracts, although he said frontline positions were safe.

Mr Dick said any jobs that could be done by a Queensland public servant should be, revealing Treasury had saved $600,000 a month by canning contractors working on a SPER debt IT project.

"Roles being performed by external consultants or contractors will be reviewed and where possible, they will be wound up," he said.

"If they're working on marketing, if they're working on social media accounts and they're not necessary then that work will be wound up … and we will pocket those savings."

Consultants and contractors will have their jobs wound up.
Consultants and contractors will have their jobs wound up.

There will be a freeze on relocating public servants into city offices like 1 William Street, and more staff will work in suburban offices with the hope CBD office space can be let to the private sector.

New, non-essential IT projects will be paused for six months, annual reports will be stripped back to meet legislated requirements only, glossy publications will be reduced and a swatch of underperforming government social media accounts shut down.

Outlining a $1 billion hit to state taxes royalties in the past six months, Mr Dick said it was too soon to detail the full hit to the Budget bottomline from COVID, or how far debt would climb, although predictions are past $100 billion.

Mr Dick said he wanted to work to save people from falling into the damaging and intergenerational cycle of long-term unemployment, and while borrowing more money wasn't his first choice, "austerity means shooting our economy in the foot".

Public servants will stop being relocated to city offices like 1 William Street. Photo: Glenn Hunt/The Australian
Public servants will stop being relocated to city offices like 1 William Street. Photo: Glenn Hunt/The Australian

During the update, the Treasurer admitted a $700 million saving found by former treasurer Jackie Trad's razor gang in December had not eventuated, but he could not say by how much it was short.

And he said he did not yet know how much he would place into the government's debt-reducing Future Fund - initially meant to contain $5 billion pulled from the surplus of the government's defined benefits superannuation fund and earn $400 million a year to offset debt.

Mr Dick said the global depression had meant the defined benefits fund had not performed as expected in the stock market and he was looking for other government assets, like Virgin shares, unregulated water and electricity assets and commercial land he could use to start the fund.

Originally published as How public service hiring freeze will work


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