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John Gale


Problematic external factors with negative impact

The issues raised here relate to all flavours of government

The APS a dfns:

1) The Orgnisation(s) that takes care of the government's basic business: the administrative part of a government.

2) A service rendered in the public interest

One APS responsibility is to provide realistic advice to government without concern for retribution.

While the APS is there to implement governmet policy it also protectors the public.

The APS's primary asset is people.

Efficiency Dividend

The Efficiency Dividend was introduced in the 1987 financial year. It has been in place for over 30 years. When it was introduced efficiency by department varied, some being very efficient others somewhat inefficient. This was and is a blunt instrument to bring efficiency to the APS. The smaller the department the more likely it is to diminish key functional areas by significantly understaffiing.

Are there that many Private Sector organisations that plan to reduce their staff knowing that their client base is continuing to grow? Or do they plan to reduce their quality of service?

Enterprise agreement

All governments have used the way they run the APS to encourage similar employment practices in the private sector. This lead to Enterprise Agreements in the APS.

Some departments re better negotiators than others. They have gained better pay rises than others for essentially the same difficulty of job. I have heard from people I know that promotion to another department has meant more money and less difficulty in doing the job.

Shambolic Government future planning of Immigration/Infrastructure

The Federal Governments have failed to develop substantial long term plans for the future.

Take immigration. Piecemeal programs of setting immigration targets have been set many times without any robust discussion of what they were meant to accomplish. These soft programs meant no substantive long term plans could be made. No long term infrastructure planning has been undertaken. No planning means the APS, at times, has been presented with unforeseen tasks of significant proportions out of the blue.

Bullying of the APS by Government Ministers

This has taken many forms.

Departmental heads are very concerned when a new government comes to power. Many Departmental Heads have been sacked for no other reason than they effectively progressed the previous governments policies. Professional competency has nothing to do with their dismissal.

Ministers tell their departments and agencies to do tasks that are unjustified and/or immoral and or grossly under resourced.

Robodebt is an example. It was flawed in the way Centrelink records were matched tax records.this created false red flags. I processing this data APS staff identified many inconsistencies that meant the flag raised was not required. They were not allowed to rectify this before the demand for money was sent. Not enough staff to follow any intervention. I saw one of these letters of demand. The document was awful. My son received one. Mostly demand and very little help in querying the demand.

Another son finished an educational course and had to go back on Newstart. He asked for this to happen without any result. Complained several times and eventually was told it took time to process as there was a backlog in the area dealing with this. Ter was nothing the local Centrelink office could do and there was no option to speak to the relevant section. Obviously the processing area was understaffed. Centrelink still backpays clients to cover the missing payments between applying for a change and it being processed. They do this for up to 16 days backpayment. Needless to say, it was over 16 days before my son's request was processed. He will never see the missing money.

Thankfully both are now employed.

The stories go on about understaffing.

Other issues

I was very disappointed to see one of the submissions talk about Cencusfail.
The Census was not a failure as was found by a subsequent independent inquiry. The process chosen to collect the census and save a substantial amount of money, failed. The ABS then reverted to the collection process in the previous Census. Sadly no Government Minister has deemed it necessary to promote the findings of the independent inquiry.

While Governments come and go the APS remains. Let us hope it is in a healthy improving state.


There are underlying issues that need to be dealt with if we want significant improvement in the APS. Without dealing with these issues all other changes will be bandaids, not real solutions.