Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government has accepted the report’s recommendations.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government has accepted the report’s recommendations.

Mammoth cost of state’s hidden workforce

MORE than $1.5 billion in wages are being paid to a hidden workforce with the cash not included in the Palaszczuk Government's annual wages bill.

He found the bulk of that money was being spent by the Transport Department, coming in at $343.8 million in 2016/17 followed by State Development at $161.3 million, Education at $131.5 million and Health at $126.2 million with a further $286 million spread across various health and hospital services.

"It is recommended that the government adopt a consistent approach to the reporting and monitoring of the indirect workforce which supports the Queensland public sector," his report states.

"For transparency, budget and forward planning purposes, the Queensland Government should move to adopt a single, authoritative and immediately retrievable workforce database spanning both the public service in particular, and the broader public sector in general."

Professor Coaldrake's reviews of both the reporting of the bureaucracy and how to future-proof it were commissioned last year amid lobbying from the Together Union for an overhaul of the way the public service is counted.

Together boss Alex Scott had raised concerned departments were hiding the number of staff hired as contractors or consultants.

Treasurer Jackie Trad and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk tasked Professor Coaldrake with determining exactly what that indirect workforce was costing. Ms Palaszczuk pledged to find ways to reduce the cost.

Professor Coaldrake has also recommended major changes to the way the bureaucracy is counted into the future and how it is defined.

Professor Coaldrake has also called for changes to the Government's contentious fiscal principle linking the growth in the public service to population growth.

The state has struggled to meet the principle since first announcing it last term.

The State Government has accepted fully and in principle all of Professor Coaldrake's recommendations.

His report confirmed the public service grew by almost 22,000 full-time equivalents in the first three years of the Palaszczuk Government with 61.2 per cent of those new public servants hired in health, education, and in police and emergency services.

Corporate roles increased by about 1483 over the same period.