The Australian Passport Office employees arrived at work on April 1 and were met with an announcement on a TV screen in the office that their workplace was being broken up and relocated to Melbourne, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The notice informed over 30 public servants – many of whom are on temporary contracts – that they would have to submit expressions of interest if they wanted to relocate in order to keep their jobs.
Workers were told that the Passport Office was moving to take advantage of the “huge centralisation opportunities” and the empty office space in the Victoria’s capital.
“As a result of all this, CREC's ELLO capacity will be moved to Melbourne this year,” the message reportedly read. “Advertisements for ELLO positions will be released soon.”
The Herald reported that bosses at the Passport Office's Canberra Regional Eligibility Centre (CREC) displayed the message for five hours, in spite of the growing distress it caused; it was not until the afternoon of April 1 that the Eligibility Centre’s supervisors revealed the announcement had been an April Fools’ Day joke, and that jobs were not under threat.
The department is due to cut 500 jobs by June, leaving public servants uncertain about the fate of their employment.
In the wider public service, there were over 7000 redundancies last year, and an overall reduction of 11,000 Commonwealth employees.
An April Fools’ Day Prank recently led to dozens of Commonwealth public servants being convinced that their jobs were at risk.