Abbott drops the axe on public jobs and committees: What does it mean for employment?

by Cameron Edmond11 Nov 2013

The LNP has announced a ‘blanket staff freeze’ across the public service, with immediate impact on government agencies including the Advisory Panel on Positive Agency (APPA) and the Australian Animals Welfare Advisory Committee (AUSAWAC).

The cuts will also directly impact CSIRO, which will result in a freeze of hiring, as well as the extension/renewal of short-term contracts. Additionally, the government has set about dismantling a number of government advisory bodies, expert panels and steering committees.

This move is seen as an attempt by the government to reduce government bureaucracy and ‘cut red tape’.

"It's going to be a huge problem," an anonymous CSIRO employee told The Sydney Morning Herald.

CSIRO employs approximately 990 “term” workers and 440 casual staff.

Dr Megan Clark, chief executive for CSIRO, stated that the figure of 1500 circulating on media outlets is incorrect. She also provided further insights to the organisation’s staff.

“There are approximately 300 non-casual contracted staff whose terms finish in the 2013-14 financial year. In normal circumstances, a proportion of these terms are not renewed in any given year; however, we recognise that this temporary suspension will result in a higher than usual number of non-renewals,” she said.

Dr Clark added that casual staff are primarily recruited for seasonal work or covering absent administrative support staff. She also stated that CSIRO will not be compromising industry or stakeholder commitments, and that contract renewal and recruitment can still be undertaken for critical positions with approval.

“In order to maintain longer term capability, we will continue targeted recruitment programs for our Indigenous employment and Post-Doctoral Fellows. We have around 50 positions currently open for recruitment, which are primarily for Post-Doctoral Fellows,” she said.

"I find it a little hard to understand why, when we're so close to finishing something that we've had some years of work in, that it's chopped off and that the Government does not appear to want a report on how ageing is going to hit Australia,” Everald Compton, head of APPA, told The ABC.

“As a result of the decision to abolish the AUSAWAC, there will be budget savings through reduced administration, travel and accommodation costs and per diem payments to committee members. The committee comprised 15 people who received per diem payments only,” The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) told HC.

Elaborating on the issue, the ALP stated the following bodies would be cut, amalgamated with other bodies, or absorbed by departments:


  • Australian Animals Welfare Advisory Committee
  • Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council
  • International Legal Services Advisory Council
  • National Inter-country Adoption Advisory Council
  • National Steering Committee on Corporate Wrongdoing
  • Antarctic Animal Ethics Committee
  • Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula
  • High Speed Rail Advisory Group
  • Maritime Workforce Development Forum
  • Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing
  • Insurance Reform Advisory Group
  • National Housing Supply Council


  • National Policy Commission on Indigenous Housing amalgamated with Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council
  • National Children and Family Roundtable and Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness to be amalgamated with Social Services Ministerial Advisory Council
  • Pulp and Paper Advisory Group to be managed by the Manufacturing Leaders Group

Absorbed by departments:

  • International Pro-Bono Advisory Group – Attorney-General’s Department
  • National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council – Attorney General’s Department
  • Centre for Workplace Leadership Advisory Group – Employment
  • National Council for Education for Sustainability – Environment
  • National Sustainability Council – Environment


  • by kevin 11/11/2013 4:52:33 PM

    Whilst I feel for those who may be displaced as a consequence of these changes I applaud the consolidation of the work performed by some of the agencies back where it belongs with the accountable Department. I fear that in the past departments have consulted with these agencies rather than develop policy directly with the electorate. This is should ensure that a department will be held "accountable" for decisions whereas an "agency" never could - so should reinforce accountability and responsibility something that has been sadly lacking to date in our Fed and State governments.

  • by RivercityIR 12/11/2013 9:24:47 AM

    To directly answer the question I think its going to be like all the thousands of jobs lost in the private sector over the last 12-18mths, its going to create strain on employment that will only continue to get worse. Sooner people realise that the economy is not as good as what the big banks and politicians are telling you the better you will be.

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