Public Servants Face Anxious Christmas After PM Flags Major Changes
Thousands of public servants are facing an anxious few months as the number of federal government departments is slashed.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is cutting the number of agencies from 18 to 14 and sacking five of the nation's top bureaucrats in the process.
Four new mega departments will be created from February 2020.
Labor and unions say it is the wrong call at a time of job insecurity and could undermine frontline services Australians rely on.
The public sector union said since the coalition had come to office nearly 19,000 public service jobs had been lost, as well as strict caps imposed.
The PM said the changes were not about cutting jobs or making savings.
"I'm ensuring the Australian public service is lean and mean and focused on the job of delivering for Australians," he told parliament.
But former Liberal leader John Hewson is deeply skeptical.
"I don't think anybody in the voting community is convinced this has got much to do with efficient and effective delivery of government services," he told ABC radio on Friday.
"I think it's much more about ideology and prejudice."
Hewson was also unimpressed with "burying" energy in the industry department.
"I just don't think these super departments work," he said.
"How does that translate to improved decision-making and improved delivery of services to the people of Australia? It just doesn't."
Jill Charker, deputy secretary of the employment and skills department, said it was too early to know what would happen to staff when her agency merges with the education department.
"We are yet to receive advice from the Department of Finance as to what the new entity's staffing cap will be," she told a Senate committee on Thursday night.
The shake-up will also see the creation of an infrastructure, transport, regional development and communications mega department.
The changes will not trigger a ministerial reshuffle.