The Budget Reveals A Vast Consolidation Of Staffing And Power In The Prime Minister's Department

Getty/John Moore

While many public servants will be preparing to farewell colleagues after tonight’s budget announcements, staff at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) will need to find room for 550 extra colleagues — a rise of more than 10% of its average staffing level (ASL) workforce. This brings the total staff rise to approximately 1300 since the last budget.

The budget papers say at note (aq) that the rise in PM&C staffing levels is a result of the following:

A number of functions moved into the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet following the Machinery of Government changes of 18 September 2013. Staff transferred from the Attorney-General’s Department, Department of Finance, Department of Communications, the former Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations, Department of the Environment, Department of Health, Department of Industry, Department of Social Services, the former Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sports; and to the Department of Social Services.

Either way, it is a centralisation of power in the Prime Minister’s office.

Defence, particularly the Military, is also big beneficiary as well with more than 2,444 personnel being added. In the context of the PM&C increase this is only just a little more than 2% of the total workforce ASL of 102,307.

Here is a list of the changes in ASL terms at the government sector level the Budget outlines:

    Agriculture: -219
    Attorney General: -543
    Communications: -167
    Defence: +2,269 including military personnel of 2,444
    Departments of Parliament: +3
    Education: -410
    Employment: +101
    Environment: -299
    Finance: -252
    Foreign Affairs and Trade: -552
    Health: -689
    Immigration and Border Protection: -480
    Industry: -1,378
    Infrastructure and Regional Development: -66
    Prime Minister and Cabinet: +550 including 594 in PM&C
    Social Services: +338
    Treasury: -2,797 including 100 jobs lost out of 2,500 at the ABS and -2,329 jobs at the ATO

Regardless of the technical and organisational reasons, the Prime Minister is really stamping his authority on the government with his department the big winner this year.

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