State to slash public service spend

QUEENSLAND'S public service will be cut by $200 million next year, and a whopping $500 million every year after as the Government tries to wrest control of its costly and growing workforce.

A specialist Service Priority Review Office will be set up within Queensland Treasury to audit public sector agencies and programs as the Government looks to massively reduce its expenses growth and ballooning wages bill, which equals 42 per cent of all expenses in 2019-20.

Under the move, a lid will be put on employee expenses and expenses growth will be just 1.6 per cent in 2019-20, compared with 5.1 per cent the year before.

Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad during a State Budget media briefing. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP
Queensland Treasurer Jackie Trad during a State Budget media briefing. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

But the Government has promised no forced redundancies in realising its ambitious targets.

Since the 2015 election of the Palaszczuk Government, 22,726 extra workers have been hired and a further 4391 are expected to join the ranks in 2019-20.

The Budget says there is a need to "ensure a balance" between delivering high-quality services and fiscal sustainability.

"Ongoing budget sustainability is central to delivering the Queensland Government's economic plan, addressing key priority target areas and achieving public sector reform," the Budget papers say.

"Reprioritisation targets have been factored into the 2019-20 Budget $200 million in 2019-20 and $500 million per annum from 2020-21 onwards."

The Government will also scrap is fiscal principal to match public service growth to population growth on advice from former QUT vice-chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake, whose public service review was released last week.

Instead, it will separate out health and education growth, which are based on activity and demand rather than population growth and report them separately.

It will also change how its counts public servants, reporting twice yearly instead of quarterly and will report on and monitor its large indirect workforce of contractors, which Professor Coaldrake found had cost taxpayers $1.5 billion in 2016-17.