As Peter Costello snipes at the states over how they spend his GST, a Crikey subscriber has got courageous with their calculator.

They’ve cut a swathe through the stats to produce ratios of state and territory public servants per head of population based on extrapolations from the 2001 Census and the August 2004 figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on public servant numbers – the first Crikey Index of Over Government.

The most governed state or territory is – surprise, surprise – the Top End. According to our heroic number cruncher, the figures add up like this in order of most to least governed:

Northern Territory 1 : 11.66712348
Tasmania – 1 : 13.98590952 (quelle surprise!)
Western Australia – 1 : 15.36315651
South Australia – 1 : 15.7938825
Queensland – 1 : 16.38122182
Australian Capital Territory – 1 : 17.92662965
New South Wales – 1 : 18.3575726
Victoria – 1 : 19.47789342 (thanks, Jeff!)

A round of applause for our champion, please – and yours truly will take the flak for methodology etcetera and encouraging this mad quest. But please also pay attention to our statistician’s findings:

“It is interesting to note that other than for three notable exceptions the rankings are in order of size of population from least to most heavily populated. The exceptions are WA, ACT and most notably NSW. WA is only slightly larger in population than SA but comes in higher in the list. ACT is an exception (why is the ACT always an exception?) as I guess the federal public servants take over some responsibilities that would ordinarily fall to state public servants.

“The really big news from this table is that NSW is incredibly over-governed based on the ratio. It has a population almost 40 per cent or two million more than Victoria but a much higher proportion of public servants to population.”

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