Centrelink to slash staff

Issue 

Centrelink is to cut about 2000 of its 27,000 staff over the next financial year as part of new cost-cutting measures by PM Kevin Rudd's Labor government.

This follows cuts and savings reductions previously announced by the Australian Tax Office, the Workplace Authority, the Bureau of Statistics, the National Capital Authority, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and a number of Canberra cultural institutions — the result of federal government agencies having to provide the same services withr 2% less funding.

The 7% cut to the Centrelink workforce will have serious implications for staff workloads and service privision. The Community and Public Sector Union has spoken out against the cuts, calling on Centrelink and the government to reconsider. On February 26, CPSU national secretary Stephen Jones said: "You can't cut 2,000 jobs without affecting front-line services. Do we really want to see 2,000 Australian workers lose their jobs on one side of the Centrelink counter simply to turn up unemployed on the other side?"

Centrelink has been hit harder than other agencies because its funding model is based on unemployment figures — when the official unemployment rate falls, so does the agency's funding. This model fails to consider underemployment or reflect the vast array of other programs, initiatives and payments Centrelink staff administer.

The CPSU is calling for an urgent review of Centrelink funding to develop a model that ensures the agency is adequately resourced for the services the government says it wants delivered.