Remember the Crikey Index of Overgovernment
figures we ran last year – the figures where we looked at the growth of the
numbers of public servants across the state, territory and Commonwealth
With Peter Costello waving the big stick and fretting over what happens with his beloved GST dollars, let’s look again
at how the states administer themselves. It seems that public service numbers
continue to rise.
The Bureau of Statistics publishes regular
series of public sector wage and salary earner figures. The latest figures are
from February of this year
and were released just over a fortnight ago. The ABS also runs regular
estimates of Australia’s population, such as the Population Clock and the Populations Projections series.
From them, we can make up the following
table comparing populations and numbers of public servants. We’ve run them from
bottom to top, starting off with the ACT where public service numbers have
You get some stands from this process alone.
Take Western Australia – 7,100 new public servants for just 16,299 new residents. Or Tasmania – 1,700
new public sector positions for 4,021 new people. Or Queensland – 9,500
to 32,181… But you have more the most when you start coming up with ratios of
public servants to population.
Since we did this exercise last year, all
the state and territory governments – with the exception of NSW and the ACT –
have increased their ratios of public servants to population. Western Australia
and Tasmania are leading the way, providing respective increases in the ratio of
4.47% and 4.18%. In the West, there is now one public servant
for every 14.8057 people. Tasmania has one for every 13.626.
The big story comes when you compare the
increase in public servants to the increase in population – and run it as a
Nationally, over our 11 month period, state
public servants have been put on at a rate of almost one new public servant for
each five new Australian residents. That’s right. A 1:5 ratio. 20%
of the increase in population seems to be filling a slot in the public sector.
There was a net increase of 33,900 new state/territory public servants over the
11 months we surveyed while the national population increased by 167,017.
Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria are all employing public servants at a rate of more than one in
four when measured against population. The ratio in the West and the Apple Isle
is close to 1:2.
Here’s how all the states and territories
measure up at the moment – first the figures from March last year and then for
|New South Wales||18.21604||18.24396|
All up, we’ve seen an increase of 33,900
positions on public payrolls at a state and territory level, compared to a
population increase of 167,017. What does this mean in salary terms – in
recurrent expenditure? How much is swallowed there?
And the biggest question is what the roles
actually are. Nurses, doctors, teachers, police – the beloved “front line
services” – or carpet strollers?
One spin-off question for the states to
answer is – how many of these were nurses, doctors, police, teachers and how
many were administration, supervisors etc (ie carpet strollers)?
Is this where the GST we pay is going? No
wonder Peter Costello is straining at the lead, wanting to get his teeth into