30 December 2023

2023 Year in Review: Public sector

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It’s been quite a year in the public sector, with Robodebt, a “hotties” list, sackings and wage negotiations. Take a look back at what has made headlines in 2023.

12. Defence admits numerous failings in Hunter class frigate program selection
by Andrew McLaughlin

ullusrtation of frigate

Concept art of the planned Hunter class frigate Image: BAE Systems.

The Defence Department has conceded it failed in several key procedural areas during the assessment and subsequent recommendation to government of the winning tender for the Royal Australian Navy’s Project SEA 5000 Future Frigate program.

11. Robodebt commissioner recommends criminal charges over illegal debt collection scheme
by Chris Johnson

Woman giving man a report

Governor-General David Hurley receives the Robodebt Royal Commission report from Commissioner Catherine Holmes. Photo: Screenshot.

Royal Commissioner Catherine Holmes has recommended that civil action and criminal charges be pursued against key players in implementing and rolling out the illegal Robodebt scheme.

The Commissioner delivered to Governor-General David Hurley her inquiry’s final report into the scheme. It was subsequently tabled in the Federal Parliament.

10. Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo sacked by PM after breaching APS code of conduct
by Genevieve Jacobs

Michael pezzullo

Michael Pezzullo has been removed from one of the most powerful roles in the APS. Photo: IPAA ACT.

Controversial – and long-serving – Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo has been sacked by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on the recommendation of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Public Service Commissioner.

9. Canberra firm leads the way on RAAF electronic warfare upgrade
by Andrew McLaughlin

RAAF fighter aircraft

A Boeing EA-18G Growler of the Amberley-based 6SQN carrying ALQ-218 pods on the wingtips, AGM-88 HARM missiles on the outboard wing pylons, and ALQ-99 jammer pods on the mid-wing pylons. Photo: ADF.

Canberra-based CEA Technologies has been awarded a $277 million contract by the Department of Defence to build advanced radar equipment for two electronic warfare training ranges in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

The contract is part of Defence’s Project AIR 5439 Phase 6 Advanced Growler program which will upgrade the sensors, jammers, weapons and training ranges for the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.

8. APS secretaries turn their attention to high-flying SES in the Chairman’s Lounge
by Chris Johnson

Invitation-only airline lounge memberships are being scrutinised at the highest levels of the APS. Photo: File.

The Australian Public Service is cracking down on the use of the exclusive Qantas Chairman’s lounge, devising a consistent set of rules over whether the invitation-only free memberships should be accepted.

But it is unlikely to entirely ban patronage by senior public servants as many of the APS’s highest-ranking officers are welcomed behind the privately marked doors in airports around the nation and beyond.

7. Hot desks: Tax Office fit-out to cost $125 million
by Ian Bushnell

New Tax Office

An artist’s impression of the proposed new Tax Office in Barton where more than 2000 staff will work. Image: DOMA.

The Australian Taxation Office is proposing a $125 million fit-out for its new office building in Barton, which will include hotdesking as part of a move to a contemporary office layout.

The ATO’s new home in Barton will be a six-storey building with strong green and wellbeing credentials and more than 33,000 square metres of floor space, nearly half that of the two current sites in the city – 26 Narellan Street and 21 Genge Street, where leases expire in May and November 2027, respectively.

6. APS graduates need more training in respect at work, Minister suggests
by Chris Johnson

Woman in front of display

Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher might introduce standardised respect training for APS graduates. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher wants to introduce a standardised training curriculum for young people entering the APS graduate program, in light of allegations some male interns joining the Infrastructure Department created a “hotties” list rating their female colleagues.

The ”hotties list” eluded the department’s bosses, who believed nonetheless that one was made by a group of young males in the graduate intake.

The list is thought to have ranked women by their attractiveness and was circulated among the males employed in the department’s graduate program.

5. Latest APS wages offer deepens rift inside CPSU
by Chris Johnson

The Members United team says the current CPSU leadership has betrayed workers by accepting the government’s latest pay offer. Photo: Supplied.

The Federal Government’s wages offer for public servants intensified the internal fight for leadership positions in the Community and Public Sector Union, with accusations of betrayal being cast at the union’s incumbent bosses.

4. Work-from-home tax rules change, just in time for the latest ATO graduate intake
by Chris Johnson

Work from home

The ATO has changed record-keeping requirements for working-from-home deductions. Photo: File.

Tough new changes to work-from-home deductions being implemented by the Australian Taxation Office is possibly one reason for a record high intake of graduates this year.

The ATO’s public service graduate intake for its 12-month program is the highest it has been, with 530 onboard this month and another 200 earmarked for an extraordinary mid-year intake.

3. Beginning of the end? Budget delivers a whole new meaning to APS consulting
by Chris Johnson

blurred office scene

The APS is looking to forge new partnerships beyond traditional consultants. Photo: File.

Consulting as we know it could be a thing of the past, at least as far as the Australian Public Service is concerned.

At a minimum, it will undergo a dramatic change.

The Federal Budget has detailed a string of measures the government is pursuing to build APS capability and to break the over-reliance on external consultants.

2. APSC offers concession over work-from-home limits
by Chris Johnson

Australian Government building. Australian Public Service Commission. Bureau of Meteorology.

Australian Public Service Commission is responding to public servants wanting more flexible working arrangements. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The Australian Public Service Commission has flagged greater flexibility arrangements for the APS, including removing caps on how many days public servants can work remotely.

The concession forms part of APS-wide negotiations over wages and conditions for the next enterprise agreement.

1. More security guards for Centrelink offices
by Chris Johnson

Centrelink office

Security boost for Centrelink offices. Photo: George Tsotsos.

The Community and Public Sector Union has welcomed the recommendations from a review into security at Services Australia, which said hundreds more security guards should be posted at Centrelink offices around the country.

The Security Risk Management Review for Services Australia has just been released, already securing a government promise of more than $40 million to boost security at Services Australia customer centres.

The review, announced in May, was led by former Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton following the stabbing of a staff member at a Melbourne Centrelink office.

Original Article published by Tim White on Riotact.

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