The Queensland government plans to allow up to 1500 public servants to work closer to home while also pausing increases to the size of the bureaucracy under new post-pandemic measures.
Treasurer Cameron Dick reportedly hopes to save $3 billion over four years by capping the size of the state public service — excluding frontline jobs — for 12 months.
During that time, the government would fill non-frontline roles through “internal recruitment only”, while secondment of frontline staff to non-frontline roles would cease, and the use of external consultants and contractors would lessen “with a view to ending arrangements where possible”.
The government also plans to expand the role of its Distributed Work Centres, Dick told The Courier-Mail, allowing up to 1500 public servants to be based at Ipswich, Logan, Robina or Maroochydore. Around 250 workers already use the centres.
The move would reduce crowds in offices and on public transport, and would mean “more time spent with your family and less time commuting”.
Dick told ABC radio that some other workers would continue to work from home.
“We don’t want any more public servants being appointed to positions in the Brisbane CBD. We have enough of them there,” he said.
“We need to now look at distributed and decentralised work locations.”
The new plans will be announced by Dick on Thursday as part of an update on the government’s savings and debt plans.
The government recently introduced legislation to freeze public service pay rises until 2022 to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus, but would honour backpay for 2019 pay rises.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the 2015 election promised to restore frontline services after former Liberal National Party premier Campbell Newman cut 14,000 public service jobs. Since then, the Queensland Public Service has grown by more than 28,000 full-time equivalent workers.
The Treasury set up a Service Priority Review Office last year, tasked with reviewing public sector programs and agencies in a bid to find savings. Earlier this month Dick axed the office, stating its work would be “reintegrated into normal Treasury business”, while “all external consultancy arrangements for the SPRO have ceased”.
The office had a $10m budget to operate until mid-2021.
Dick also recently scrapped plans to hire a chief economist externally, promoting senior Treasury public servant Dennis Molloy instead.