November 30, 2005 | Graham

Where have all the workers gone?

I ran into my friend, Dr David Watson, former MLA for Moggill, the other day. We talked about the increase in bureaucracy in the Queensland Health Department without any apparent improvement in outcomes. This was of course in the context of the Jayant Patel inferno. Whatever else you say about Joh Bjelke-Petersen (and I’ve said plenty) he knew how to screw things down tightly, which led to a bureaucracy that cost less than the Australian average, but in many areas, delivered just as much.
David went on to say that until a few years ago he was keeping tabs on the growth of the public service under Labor. It was Mark Latham who first pointed out that the growth in Disability Support Pensions accounted for some of the decrease in national unemployment. Watson reckons that the increase in the size of the Queensland public service has been responsible for some of the decrease in Queensland unemployment.
Does anyone know what the increase in the public service under Labor has amounted to, right up to the moment (Watson’s figure stop some years ago)?
Australia currently has a shortage of workers in some occupations, which is being exaccerbated by the aging of the workforce – see this study from IR Minister Kevin Andrews. I wonder how many of these new public servants could have helped to ease these shortages if they were still in the private sector?
For example, good book-keepers are hard to come by. Many of these new public servants would surely be suitable for this. Where they are at the moment they are very unlikely to be increasing the net sum of total personal wealth, which means that our living standards are probably being lowered in order to pamper the public service. But then, most people will be more concerned about something they can easily measure – unemployment – than something they can’t – opportunity cost and a foregone higher standard of living.

Posted by Graham at 9:01 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. I agree 100% having just gone through a recruitment process for a book-keeper!

    Comment by R — December 8, 2005 @ 3:14 pm

  2. How about a look at Canberra – its growing with bueuracrats @ a similar pace to QLD. Of course most are highly paid consultants on contract. But its the same thing in the end…

    Comment by alphacoward — December 11, 2005 @ 7:35 pm

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