Temporary increase to public service staffing levels to drive COVID-19 recovery

By Matthew Elmas

Tuesday October 6, 2020

budget 2020
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg look over the 2020 federal budget (Image: AAP/Mike Bowers).

Average staffing levels (ASL) increases across the Australian public service will increase in 2020-21 as the Morrison government invests in Commonwealth capabilities to shepherd COVID-19 recovery efforts.

ASLs across the public service will increase an estimated 3,666 to 170,428 (excluding military and reserves) in 2020-21, with significant increases in workforce across Services Australia and Treasury.

Supplementary funds will also be provided to agencies such as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for workforce maintenance.

However, while departmental expenses as a percentage of total government expense is expected to increase in 2020-21, staffing levels are expected to “gradually return” to 2006-7 levels by 2022-23.

“Consistent with the forecast for Departmental expenditure, staffing levels are expected to gradually return to 2006-07 levels, reflecting the temporary nature of the Government’s economic support measures,” Finance and Public Service Minister Mathias Cormann said.

Including military and reserves, ASL across the federal government will increase by an estimated 8,006 to 252,313 in 2020-21.

A raft of machinery of government changes since the 2019-20 budget mean its difficult to compare changes in staffing levels across most departments, but the government has nevertheless committed substantial resources to expansions in workforce for some Commonwealth entities:

  • Social Services: +1,057 to 34,151;
  • Treasury: +2,161 to 26,955; and
  • Prime Minister & Cabinet: +717 to 4,712.

ASL estimates 2020-21, by department (agencies included)

  • Agriculture, Water and the Environment: 9140;
  • Attorney-General’s: 7,618;
  • Defence: 101,764;
  • Departments of the Parliament: 1,315
  • Education, Skills and Employment: 4,145
  • Finance: 2,773;
  • Foreign Affairs and Trade: 7,162;
  • Health: 6,302;
  • Home Affairs: 24,589;
  • Industry, Science, Energy and Resources: 12,357;
  • Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications: 10,329;
  • Prime Minister and Cabinet: 4,712;
  • Social Services: 34,151; and
  • Treasury: 26,954;

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