New information from several key Government departments has revealed the extent of the Liberals’ blowouts on contractors and consultants within the public service.
In response to Questions on Notice in Senate Estimates, four agencies – Social Services; Finance; Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities; and Agriculture and Water Resources – have revealed that, between them, more than 1,200 long-term contractors have been engaged continuously for more than a year.
The Liberals’ arbitrary Average Staffing Level (ASL) cap has become counterproductive, leading to a hollowing out of the public service and sparking a blowout in spending on contractors and consultants.
Other departments probed through Senate Estimates were unable to even provide the size of their contractor workforce, highlighting a concerning lack of transparency around the use of taxpayers’ money within the public service.
The systemic long-term use of contractors in the public service completely exposes the Finance Minister’s claim that contractors are used when the government needs “to access relevant skills and expertise is temporary…”
These latest figures further strengthen the need for Labor’s policy to abolish the Liberals’ arbitrary ASL cap to allow agencies to set their staffing levels based on operational requirements, but within an overall Budget.
Abolishing the cap will help ensure more expertise, experience and corporate memory is retained in the public service by encouraging agencies to employ permanent bureaucrats over contractors and consultants.
Labor will rein in the Liberals’ wasteful spending on contractors and consultants and ensure that, where appropriate, the work of the public service is done by permanent and full-time public servants.
Labor has already committed to greater transparency concerning the use of contractors, consultants and labour-hire firms in the public service, and it’s time the Liberals got on board too.