Time to expand public service employment

Back in 2010, in the early days of the GFC, the then Australian Labor government was weathering a conservative storm for daring to introduce a large-scale (and rapid) fiscal stimulus. The package had several components but the most controversial were the decision to introduce a homeinsulation program to create jobs quickly but leave a residual of green benefits (lower energy use in the future). The program had problems but still produced fantastic macroeconomic benefits. It was little wonder that the program stumbled operationally given its complexity and the degraded capacity of the Federal public service, which has been degraded by several decades of employment cuts and restructures under the neo-liberal guise of improving ‘efficiency’. However, that mantra might be finally turning. An article in the right-wing Australian Financial Review (June 14, 2015) – Time to end outsourcing and rebuild the public service – made the extraordinary argument for that publication that public service employment had to increase to allow the government to do what the Federal Communications Minister calls “the legitimate work of the public service”. Wonders never cease.

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