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POLICY LAUNCH: Revitalise Australia’s public service

Media Release
Larissa Waters 17 Mar 2022

The Greens will undo years of privatisation and revitalise the Australian Public Service by restoring staffing levels and increasing wages, winding back labour hire and outsourcing, reducing politicisation and freeing public servants to participate fully in public debate.

Successive governments have outsourced Australia’s essential public services, making them more expensive, lower quality and harder to oversee. The outsourcing of jobs has seen real wages fall and employment conditions worsen, which has put downward pressure on wages and conditions in the private sector.

We can end the over-reliance on privatisation and deliver a stronger and more capable public service at a lower cost to the public. The Greens will:

  • Restore APS jobs to match 2012 levels so the public service can meet the needs of this country 
  • Lift APS level wages by 4% p/a over the next four years to value public sector workers and pull wages up across the private sectors
  • Limit outsourcing to labour hire firms and the Big Four to 7.5% of an agency’s budget
  • Reform the appointment process to reduce politicisation
  • Ensure public servants can participate in public debate 
  • Protect public sector whistleblowers who disclose Ministerial or Departmental misconduct 

Link to full policy document


Quotes attributable to Greens deputy leader and public sector spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters:

“Under the Liberals and Labor our public service has been progressively privatised, with jobs cut, government departments hollowed out and work palmed off to the ‘Big Four’ consulting firms, which are now among the country’s biggest political donors. 

“Since 2012 successive governments have slashed a total of 17,000 full-time jobs from the public service, while at the same time funnelling billions into the bank accounts of consultancy firms like KPMG and Deloitte, including $850 million in 2020 alone.

“The undermining of the public sector began under the Gillard Labor government, which launched a massive cull of public servants, and has only accelerated under the Liberals, who have ramped up payments to the Big Four, particularly during the pandemic.
“Between them the Big Four have donated more than $5.4 million to the major parties since 2012, including nearly $700,000 in 2020-21.

“Contrary to the neoliberal propaganda, privatising essential services does not save money nor produce better outcomes. It makes services less efficient and puts decision-making in the hands of for-profit multinationals.

“To guarantee that the education, housing, health, social security, environmental protection and infrastructure needs of our country are being met we need a well-staffed and highly skilled public service that is able to provide effective and impartial policy advice to government, and carry out its responsibilities free from political interference.”

Quotes attributable to Greens candidate for Canberra Tim Hollo:

“The outsourcing of basic public service work to contractors and the Big Four has been a disaster not just for good government but for so many Canberrans, particularly young people trying to build a career in public service.

"I hear from a lot of young Canberrans who've found that outsourcing means they can't get basic job security, have no real prospective career path, and can't afford to rock the boat in any way. And many older, experienced people are deeply troubled that the crucial institutions they've dedicated their lives to are being eroded and privatised. That's terrible for them, but also for our expectations that government should get frank and fearless advice.

"This policy is going to excite a lot of people around Canberra, and I'm sure elsewhere in Australia. With Greens in shared power in both houses, we can get rid of the destructive LNP and work to pull Labor to go further and faster in ending outsourcing and supporting the public service."

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