Big business cashing in while public sector jobs and services are cut
19 March 2012, 11:30pm National Secretary Nadine Flood
The CPSU is calling on the Government to crack down on spending on consultants after it has been revealed that more than $2 billion has been pocketed by firms such as KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young over the past four years.
The revelation comes as public sector agencies are shedding jobs and cutting services as part of a $2.2 billion Government savings drive.
"I think most Australians would be outraged that such a huge amount of taxpayers' money is going to a handful of high-flying, multi-national companies at the same time as essential frontline services and jobs are disappearing," CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said.
"These big firms first got their claws into government during the Howard years. Now, with such huge amounts on money at stake, you can see why they want to keep their good thing going.
"The Federal Government appears to have developed a long-term dependence on expensive contractors to do work much of which could - and should - be done in-house.
"The Government knows it has skill gaps and shortages in key areas. Now is the time to get serious about addressing them. Surely it's smarter in the long term to invest in and develop our own people rather than continue to be fleeced by the big end of town.
"Congratulations to the media for exposing the extent of contracting in the APS, but if the Government is so committed to saving money on contractors, why isn't it publishing this data itself?
"When the Government announced an extra $.2.2 billion cut to public sector agencies late last year, they promised to crack down on consultancy spending. If agencies do have plans to cut consultancy spending, staff can't see them. Instead they are facing redundancies and higher workloads for the staff left behind." she said.
Recent CPSU research shows that very few agencies had discussed cutting consultancies or other saving measures with staff, although many of those agencies are steaming ahead with jobs cuts.
"We could see this problem get worse. Current Budget cuts to the public service are seeing skilled staff go out the door and not be replaced. If you keep degrading the public service's long-term capacity, inevitably there will be greater reliance on expensive private sector firms to undertake core public service work," Ms Flood said.