31/10/2006 - 21:00

Public service increase ripe for partisan politics

31/10/2006 - 21:00


Save articles for future reference.

The state government is by far the biggest employer in Western Australia with 101,920 public servants in June 2006 compared with 98,621 in June 2005.

Public service increase ripe for partisan politics

The state government is by far the biggest employer in Western Australia with 101,920 public servants in June 2006 compared with 98,621 in June 2005.


With an overall growth of 3.32 per cent, almost all public services agencies have increased their staff in the past financial year.


The increase above 100,000 employees earlier this year stirred up political controversy, with the state opposition highlighting the growing number of public servants as part of its campaign against rising government spending.


Treasurer Eric Ripper said recently that appointments were aimed at agencies providing direct community support services such as health, education and police.


Deputy opposition leader Troy Buswell said although Mr Ripper was talking about extra police and nurses, he was not taking resignations into account.


“There is minimal net gain of staff in key service delivery like police, nurses and teachers,” Mr Buswell said.


“The vast majority of 1,000 public servants that are being employed each quarter are going into an already bloated bureaucracy.”


The biggest state government agencies remain education and training, with 30,628 staff (on a full-time equivalent basis), and health, which grew by 6.2 per cent to have 26,771 staff in June.


Most Health Department staff are concentrated in six hospitals, with Royal Perth Hospital (5,473 employees) and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (4,481 employees) leading the way.


According to the 2005-2006 state government budget, funding was provided for an additional 800 nurses as well as 225 teachers, 146 new Tafe lecturers and 100 training mentors, 350 police officers and 160 public servants in the police service.


The police service is another major employer, registering a growth of 2.3 per cent with 6,426 staff for the year to June 2006.


The Department of Corrective Services, which was established in January this year, has 3,161 staff.


The Water Corporation, which has a $600 million capital works program, had strong employee growth of 8 per cent for the year.


With 2,286 employees, it is the biggest of the state government’s business enterprises.


Western Power ranks much lower in this year’s survey after the corporation’s break-up into four government-owned businesses in April.


Western Power has gone from 2,774 staff in June 2005 to 1,998 in June 2006, with the balance transferred to the new entities Synergy, Verve, and Horizon.


The Department of Conservation and Land Management, which increased its staff by 5.5 per cent on the period, merged with the Department of Environment in July 2006 to create the Department of Environment and Conservation. With 1 900 staff, the new agency is ranked in the top 10 of the biggest departments.


Main Roads WA had a 7 per cent staff increase as it proceeded with major projects such as the Wiluna-Meekatharra road and the Mitchell Freeway extension.


The Department of Consumer and Employment Protection had a record increase with a 21 per cent growth, which can be partly explained by the transfer of 112 staff from the Department of industry and Resources’ safety and health division on July 1 2005.


Consequently, the department recorded a staff decrease of almost 8 per cent, making it the only agency of more than 500 employees to experience a decrease for the period. The department went from 1,011 down to 933 employees.


Other significant growth was in the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (7 per cent), the Department of Housing and Works (5 per cent) and the Public Transport Authority (4.5 per cent).


The state budget shows that salaries are the largest component of general government expenses, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of total expenses.


According to the 2006-2007 budget, salaries expenditure is forecast to rise by $344 million (or 6.2 per cent) next year.


Subscription Options