SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia’s government warned of further job losses Saturday as media reports said around 175 government agencies working in areas as diverse as Antarctic science and drought will be scrapped.
The conservative administration of Prime Minister Tony Abbott which came to power in September 2013 has consistently argued that government had become too big and wasteful under the previous Labor leadership.
It axed 76 agencies in the May budget, and has since sold off the nation’s largest health insurer Medibank Private among other assets and is now planning a larger round of cuts.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government’s decision, expected to be formally announced on Monday as part of a mid-year economic outlook, would mean more jobs would go.
“If you reduce the number of government bodies, there will be an impact on jobs across the public service,” he told Sky News on Saturday.
“What we will see is that as a result of our reform efforts so far, that the size of the public service will be back down to the same level as what it was in 2007, 2008. We think that’s appropriate.”
The Weekend Australian reported that 138 government agencies will be abolished, including the Vietnam Veterans Family Study Consultative Forum, the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee and a High-Level Group on Drought.
Fifteen more – including the Australian Government Solicitor – will be consolidated into government departments and a further 26 merged (resulting in the net reduction of 20 bodies), bringing the total loss to more than 170, the paper said.
“The goal is to ensure that the government is as big as it needs to be but as small as it can be,” Cormann told Sky News.