February 17th, 2015 | Uncategorized | 0 Comments
TROUBLE is brewing in the entitlement industry, I write in The Australian today.
Public servants at the Department of Human Services are so angry at the government’s derisory pay offer that they have taken off for lunch. The 1.15 per cent rise on the table falls somewhat short of the 12 per cent the Community and Public Sector Union thinks its members are worth. What’s more, the department wants to add nine minutes to the working day, requiring staff to stay at their desks for a full 7½ hours. No wonder they’re upset.
Last week DHS staff escalated the dispute by switching their email accounts to bounce-back while they took co-ordinated meal breaks. Unmoved, the department is refusing to budge.
Just how productive are the 30,000 DHS workers who administer the nation’s biggest welfare programs? Arguably a little too productive. Last year they redistributed $159 billion of other people’s money, about 10 per cent of Australia’s gross domestic product. That means each staff member doled out about $5.3 million in welfare in 2013-14, or 62 times what they are paid.
It’s not public service salaries that are sending us on the road to Athens, it’s the quantities of cash they are spending. The budget cannot be returned to surplus by simply cutting bureaucracy, as Finance Department secretary Jane Halton pointed out on Friday.
The government’s running costs were on track to fall to 6 per cent of total spending in 2017-18, Halton told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. “Evidence suggests that (inefficiency) is not the major source and major driver of growth in government outlays,” she said.