The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC

Treasurer

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Labor loses control over public sector job numbers

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Weatherill Government has lost control of the budget and doesn’t know exactly how many public servants it is employing, Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said today.

The South Australian Public Sector Workforce Information Summary Report provides information about the structure, size and composition of the South Australian public sector workforce, but the most recent figures are well out of date.

“It is outrageous that the last official report by the Commissioner for Public Employment was for June 2010,” Mr Lucas said.

“The Commissioner for Public Employment, Warren McCann, is being paid $190,000 per year for 2½ days work per week, and on that salary should be required to produce this report soon after it is due.”

Information obtained by the Liberal Opposition under Freedom of Information laws reveal the Labor Government estimated it employed 519 more FTE public servants than they had budgeted for as at 30 June 2011:

Total public servants at 30/6/2011 (FTE)
Budgeted: 85038
Actual (FOI): 85557
Blowout: 519

At an average cost of about $80,000 per year, that results in a budget blowout of more than $40 million, or $160 million over four years.

Evidence from Under Treasurer Brett Rowse to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee in August last year, indicated DTF had no idea about employment numbers in Health:

“One of the difficulties we have is that we are still having difficulties in establishing an appropriate cap number for Health. We have had this trouble for a considerable amount of time now. They are currently working with some consultants with the objective of trying to get a rigorous cap number established as quickly as possible, which we anticipate will be early in this current financial year. That is one of the difficulties we have had in the past in comparing their actual FTE numbers at any particular point in time with what the cap should be, and we have not been able to lock down a figure which both Health and ourselves have been happy with to date.”

(Brett Rowse, Budget and Finance Committee, 1 August 2011)

“Consultants Ernst & Young and Deloitte were in fact paid $300,000 to try and sort out budget and job number issues in the Health Department,” Mr Lucas said.

“However, two months later in October 2011, Health Chief Executive David Swan told the Budget and Finance Committee that as at 30 June 2011, the Health Department was about 170 FTE over the Treasury-imposed job cap.

“The fact that there has been no Auditor-General’s Report on the Health Department seven months after the end of the financial year is a damning indictment of the Weatherill Government and a further indication of a budget that is out of control.

“South Australian families suffering from higher and higher costs of living deserve to know the number of public servants Mr Weatherill is employing and why he can’t control his budget.

“Mr Weatherill needs to explain how he ended up employing an estimated 519 more public servants than his budget provided for as at June 2011.”

At the next Budget and Finance Committee, the Liberal Opposition will move that the Commissioner for Public Employment be asked at the earliest opportunity to answer questions about these important issues.
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