This item has been updated – see below

While overall public service numbers are unchanged in the Budget (an increase of 383 out of nearly 260,000), some departments and agencies have prospered while others face serious cuts.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has done well as a consequence of the Government’s Aviation White Paper, gaining 111 staff, more than 16% of its current number, to implement a new round of safety initiatives. Kim Carr’s Department of Innovation has also expanded significantly, picking up over 300 staff to grow by 16%. Close behind is Prime Minister and Cabinet — subject to bureaucratic grumbling about micro-management and empire-building — which grew significantly this year, and will grow even more next year, picking up another 86 people or 14%.  It now has 200 more people than the 500 it had at the start of the Rudd Government.

The ABS will get an extra 230 people (9%), primarily for preparations for the 2011 Census. Defence and the Defence Materiel Organisation will collectively grow by 1656 people, although that’s a mere 14% of current numbers. And despite having a $15 million “efficiency” reduction to its Budget, ASIO’s numbers will yet again expand, another 5% this time, to a round figure of 1800 — partly to help expand phone tapping by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. There’ll also be more nuclear scientists at ANSTO, and AusAID will pick up another 56 staff.

Small agencies wear the biggest hits in terms of losses. The Australian Sports Commission hasn’t prospered as a result of the government’s craven rejection of the Crawford review of sports funding. Despite the government deciding to waste more money on the junketeering leeches of the Olympic movement via taxpayer handouts for elite sport, the Sports Commission will lose over 100 people, or nearly 15% of its staff. The Australian Film, Television and Radio School will lose 20 staff, but off a base of 170; Comsuper will lose 25 (5%); the Native Title Tribunal 35 (16%).

Big agencies Centrelink and Customs will also take haircuts — Centrelink losing nearly 2000 staff (7%) and Customs 250 (4.5%).

Attorney-General’s -50 (3%) ASIO 89 (5%)
Customs -250 (4.5%) Defence & DMO 1656 (8%)
Native Title Tribunal -35 (16%) PM&C 86 (14%)
Defence Housing -101 (14%) ABS 230 (9%)
DEEWR -525 (9.5%) Innovation 315 (16%)
AFTRS – 20 (12%) AusAID 56 (6%)
Comsuper -25 (5%) ANSTO 82 (8%)
ASC -105 (14%) CASA 111 (16.5%)
Centrelink -1880 (7%)


The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has provided some advice on its change in staffing levels. ASLs are basic APS units of people e.g. 0.5 ASL is a half a full-time position.

The 2010-11 Budget released last night is supported by information published in the Budget Papers. Budget Paper No.1 shows average staffing levels (ASL) for PM&C increasing by 86 ASL from 618 ASL in 2009-10 to 704 ASL in 2010-11.

This change in staffing levels relates to specific initiatives, rather than ongoing departmental activities including:

  • 48 ASL for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2011 taskforce.
  • 26 ASL for the Office of the Information Commissioner. This funding for establishment of the Office was announced and details provided in the 2009-10 Budget and will be transferred from my Department to the Office as a separate entity following the passage of legislation.
  • 9 ASL for the COAG Reform Council which is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the states and territories for a specific project related to Cities.
  • 6 ASL for the Independent Review of the Intelligence Community funded through offsets from ASIO.
  • A reduction of 3 ASL following the wind up of the Pacific Island Forum taskforce.

There has been no change to base staffing levels for the department.

A spokesperson for Sports Minister Kate Ellis has also advised that the forecast reduction in positions at the Australian Sports Commission relates to the expiry of the Howard-era Active After School sports program, which is scheduled to wind up at the end of this calendar year, but its continuation is under consideration by the Government currently.

Crikey understands from other sources that this may be announced during the election campaign.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey