Peter Dutton’s Home Affairs Department has thrown its support behind Labor’s plan to abolish the Liberals’ arbitrary public service staffing cap while sticking to an overall spending cap.
In a submission to the Independent Review of the Public Service, the Department wrote about the Average Staffing Level (ASL) cap that:
The Department suggests that providing more flexibility and devolved authority to agencies to manage average staffing levels (ASL), while remaining within strict budget parameters, would result in resourcing decisions that more optimally meet the demands of growth in workload, deliver programs with improved services, better address risks and grow revenue collection.
The Department’s submission backs in Labor’s recently announced policy to abolish the ASL cap to allow agencies to set their staffing levels based on operational requirements, but within an overall budget.
As the Department recognises, this is not a free-for-all. It’s about giving departments like Home Affairs the flexibility to decide their own staffing needs within their own budget allocation.
Staffing levels have real impacts on frontline services. In Dutton’s mega-Department alone, visa processing times – including partner visas – have blown out-of-control whilst the number of permanent residents waiting for their citizenship to be approved has increased by more than 300 per cent under the Turnbull Government.
The Liberals’ arbitrary ASL cap has become counterproductive, leading to a hollowing out of the public service and sparking a blowout in spending on contractors and consultants.
Abolishing the cap will help ensure expertise, experience and corporate memory is retained in the public service by encouraging agencies to employ permanent bureaucrats over contractors and consultants.
Our plan helps deliver the quality services and value for money Australians need and deserve.
Seeing as Peter Dutton is working to secure the Prime Minister’s job, he can start by supporting his Department’s call to scrap the public service staffing cap.