September 06, 2012 | Graham

Fine cuts: some feedback on the public service

I haven’t been overwhelmed with responses on public service overmanning, but I’ve had a couple I want to pass on. If you want to add to this, please either leave a comment below, or go to my survey by clicking here.

Jane, who has experience of how short term contracts and the recruitment agencies interact writes:

Hi Graham, I stumbled on this website while trying to find some supportive comments with regard to public service cuts. I worked as an admin temp (between jobs) for Russo Recruitment for approx 6 months from September 2011. I was regularly placed in short term QLD govt positions, AO3 level.

In all honestly not a single position required me to do any work. Occasionally I would answer a phone call or file a few things. The boredom almost killed me, I was expected to sit at a desk all day and do nothing! I continued as it was easy money and filled the gap for a few months.

I assume there is a “designated position” and it is filled whether the work is there or not, otherwise the position may be made redundant.

These temp agencies place large numbers of staff in the public service. How many of these positions are filled because the agency sales staff are good at their job, not because there is work to be done? Following this, how much money is made by the temp agencies? I was disappointed and disillusioned by my experience and completely support the current cuts.

It would be interesting to know how much impact the Newman cuts could be having on the income of recruitment agencies, and if it is significant, whether the state government might be thinking of taking this sort of hiring in-house.

This response comes from someone who definitely is not a public servant. Strikes me as a little unkind, but I’m sure he’s not alone in being unsympathetic to the public service plight.

The Public Service have been a bit of a priveliged elite over recent times. To start with, any advertised job in the public service in the last 10 years has already been given out to someone who has the right connections. Outside applicants don’t stand a chance. This goes right down to entry level high-school leavers. Unlike many (perhaps most) people in the private sector, there are proper procedures for bullying, harrassment and discrimination in the public service & it’s simply not tolerated. It’s rife in the private sector, as is underpaying in the sub-$60K sector, and there is rarely any internal mechanism for sorting things out. You basically have to resign and hope the next place is better. That’s why most younger people would love to have a public sector job – even strong Liberals (and particularly libertarians ironically).

On the economic front, for those of us who keep our jobs, Brisbane is already becoming a better place to live in. I can always get a seat on the train these days since all the people with swipe cards hanging off their belts disappeared. And a lot of people are already moving interstate, reducing housing price pressures. I heard today on RN that the housing bubble is going to burst and the jobs cuts in Brisbane were given as one of the many reasons why. For those of us who have been locked out of the Brisbane market as this seemingly non-ending price spiral continued, a decline in housing prices is just what the doctor ordered.

There are winners and losers in any economic change & I think we are hearing too much about the losers. Yesterday’s losers – those who didn’t get into property before it skyrocketed – are going to be tomorrow’s winners, after 10 long years of the bubble.

Probably not a popular opinion among baby boomers or public servants, but for my generation and younger it will be good news.

I’m interested particularly in his take on public service hiring practices. Is he correct? If so, will the Newman government do something to make the situation more transparent?

Posted by Graham at 11:31 am | Comments (4) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. Contracts of under 3 months don’t have to be advertised. The manager can appoint anyone he/she wants that has the requirements. No one else would even know the position was available. Once you’re in the system, you are in a good position to hear about permanent vacancies before they are advertised & you have an advantage over external candidates because you now have some experience within the public sector. Happens all the time & generally excludes people from the lesser suburbs who are aquainted with managers from the public service.

    Will it happen under Newman? Not while there is a freeze on hiring. But the practice will come back, as it has nothing to do with which party is in government. It’s just cronyism.

    Comment by Bernie — September 6, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  2. last line of first para above should have read “who are NOT acquainted with managers from the public service.”

    Comment by Bernie — September 6, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

  3. Staff Numbers at State and Local Government levels
    has grown expodentially over the years.
    It is time to sensibly cut back. The Unions are crying
    but without reason , they are in fact acting as the
    quasi opposition. In fact getting more air time than
    the parliamentry opposition.
    Manage debt or become ‘the Greece of the South Pacific’
    Simple – and we voted overwhelmingly for these
    measures, dont be distracted.

    Comment by RANK FRANK — September 7, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  4. As a taxpayer I would like to know how much I have paid for the hire of the facility for a two day meeting and whether or not it was catered. As for the current treatment of the public service, any person who is having their livelihood threatened would rightly be upset.

    Comment by Johnny Oneal — September 20, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

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