ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

February 2009
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
232425262728  

Tags

Archives

RSS Oz House

Share

Authors

Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


RSS Blog RSS

Site search

Miniposts

Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

Advertisement

Links:

9,000 Tax Office jobs to go?

As John has pointed out to me, the logic of this article remains correct, but the Government in its May Budget has rescued the ATO with even more money to pour into its black hole Change Program and the Wickenby fiasco. For more detail see my article on this site called Bailing out the ATO.

In addition, the ATO has smartened up its approach from the George W Bush blunder in and crash about one, to the the more subtle Barack Obama one of getting the same result through dialogue and discussion with the threat of using power left unsaid. 

Further it has seemingly distanced itself from its planned Operations attack, now suggesting this proposed jobs slaughter was never ATO policy. The Commissioner has also finally guaranteed permanent jobs in the ATO. 

That still means he will reduce staff levels and hence increase workloads through attrition, and attack contractors.

 ATO management have done all of this in response to whisperings of defiance and a national minute of action from the the Community and Public Sector Union.  Imagine what could happen if the unions ran a real industrial campaign for better wages and more jobs.

John thinks the back down is more a temporary reprieve while management search for back door ways of doing the same thing – cutting labour costs.  So really its a back down to a back door.

Leonie 22 May 2009

 The crisis in the Australian Tax Office is deepening. Those who administer our tax system want to massively cut the number of full time permanent ATO staff and privatise essential operations.

Why?

First, they want to recoup their losses on the Change Program, an overblown record keeping system that is supposed to deliver efficiencies. There has been a cost blowout so far of over $350 m not to mention delays and loss of productivity of staff.

Secondly, Rudd’s ‘efficiency’ dividend (i.e. funding cut) of 3.25 per cent is wreaking havoc. On top of Howard’s 1.25 per cent yearly cuts, the latest Rudd cuts mean for the ATO a reduction in real terms of about $90 m. (Applying a ten to one ratio of collections to dollars spent, that could mean $900 million less in revenue collected. That’s efficient!)

This plus the ongoing overspending on the Change Program black hole white elephant – a lovely image if a clumsy phrase – sees the ATO $140 million over budget this financial year and likely to be more so next year.  Couple that with an explosion in senior staff with a conservative world view and their ‘logical’ response is to outsource and cut staff numbers.

Make labour pay is the catch cry of bosses across the globe to address the problems of capitalism.  The bosses in the ATO have embraced that message with gusto.

The ATO has already sacked 133 contractors.  As I said previously on this site (The crisis in the ATO continues):

In May 2008 after the Federal Budget the ATO said that it would allow natural attrition to reduce staff by 1137 to meet Labor’s inefficiency dividend. It also said there would be  no sackings. This was before the overspend became evident and the global economic crisis hit.  The attrition rate has slowed markedly since then so that the 1137 target cannot be met.  Sacking staff becomes the option.  So far it is 133 non-ongoing contractors.  The 133 will just be the start.

One union official estimates 3000 staff will go in Operations alone if the ATO leadership gets its way with its plan. That’s not quite 15 per cent of the Tax Office’s workforce and almost 40 per cent of the Operations workforce.

The ATO, supposedly committed to transparency, is so cranky with this union official telling his membership via the media about their secret squirrel plans, that they have banned him from future wage negotiations. This is stupid and possibly discriminates against someone for their union activities.

Maybe the ATO leadership don’t get it, but there was an election in 2007.  Labor won.

Someone should let the Commissioner know this, because crapping on union leaders is probably a no-no now.  What you have to do under Labor is pretend you are consulting with unions before doing exactly what you were going to do anyway.

Often you can convince the union leadership to support you, and guess what?  They’ll sell the the dog shit sandwich to staff and their declining membership for you. A wage freeze proposal comes to mind here for the main union, the  Community and Public Sector Union or CPSU, to willingly force down ATO staff throats in the name of ‘saving jobs’.

So what are these ‘secret’ ATO plans?

The Tax Office has an area called Operations.  It employs 8000 people and does important work, like processing returns, collecting debt and providing phone advice (through ATO call centres.)  Here is part of what the CPSU said on Friday:

Members in Operations have been aware for some months that ATO management is planning significant changes to workforce structures into the future. According to the ATO, the reasons for the changes include:

  • the need to make Operations more ‘flexible’
  • the need to reduce labour costs
  • difficulty with existing Government Budget allocations

All of these reasons – flexibility, the ‘efficiency’ dividend and labour costs – could easily apply across the ATO, not just in Operations . That makes me think this Operations attack is the first wave of restructurings, i.e.  job losses, in the ATO as a whole. The union goes on to say:

As part of recent agency agreement negotiations, CPSU representatives were given a briefing on future staffing and workforce issues. The briefing revealed that ATO wants to massively reduce the number of ongoing full time jobs (from 82.5% to 35%) in Operations – and massively increase the number of part time, non-ongoing and outsourced/labour hire/contract staff. [The proposed increase in permanent part-time staff is to be from 9 per cent to 25 per cent in Operations. JP] ATO management indicated that while their proposal was ‘estimates only’ of a workforce mix, they were determined to make significant changes and “moving to this model is not a choice.

Remember this is for Operations only.  The same job cutting job cutting logic applies to all areas of the ATO, another 15,000 or so staff.

Moving from 82.5 per cent full time employment to 35 percent (and offsetting part time “gains”) for an Operations workforce of 6500 equivalent full time employees means full time job losses  of almost 3000 in Operations alone. Operations makes up almost one third of ATO staff numbers.

Operations – because a lot of it is basic and repetitive work – contains many lower level staff.  Women dominate these levels.  The Chief Operations Officer is Raelene Vivian and the Second Commissioner Compliance is Jennie Granger.

So much for the sisterhood. A boss is  boss is a boss and is driven by the logic of the system to attack her workers.

If this plan is a stalking horse for the whole of the  ATO (as I have indicated seems likely) then the impact of this job loss plus outsourcing approach will be massive.

My calculations are, assuming the same level of reductions applies across the board, (an assumption which may not translate exactly given the different functions different areas undertake), that the current 23,000 staff in the ATO could be reduced by up to 9,000. This will happen only if staff let the bosses get away with it.

You often hear ATO managers bleating “Staff are our most valuable asset.”   The ATO’s fire sale shows this is closer to (a very warped) reality than most staff realised.

The Compliance area brings in an extra $4 to $8 billion a year directly through its activities and many billions more through its thin blue line effect.  If that sub-plan were to suffers job losses then the  impact on revenue is incalculable but likely to be in the high billions, especially during a deep recession.

As business look to cut costs during an economic downturn, and most regard tax as a cost, the ATO will need all the staff it has plus more to deal with those pushed over the line of evasion or avoidance.  It will also need all the staff it has plus more to deal with the new world of tax reform if Treasury Secretary Ken Henry’s tax review is even a little adventurous.

Cutting Tax Office staff as the recession deepens and before Henry’s report is released, or during its implementation, is utter madness.

The ATO needs more staff and more funding, not less.

The ATO will say I am scaremongering. It’s not me who says that they need to reduce labour costs. It’s not me who talks about reducing permanent full time workers in Operations from 82.5 per cent to 35 per cent of the workforce.

Let the ATO leadership come clean and tell the public what their real plans are instead of hiding behind the cloak of secrecy. Tell us how many staff you want to be in the Office in a year’s time.  3 year’s time?  Full time?  Part time? Outsourced?

There is an inexorable logic for bosses in dealing with the supposed ‘need to reduce labour costs’, the need for ‘flexibility’ and the need to deal with Rudd Labor’s funding cuts (the ‘efficiency’ dividend).  The warped logic of job cuts and outsourcing applies to all areas of the ATO, not just Operations. Indeed it applies to all areas of the Public Service and private enterprise.

So ATO staff are at the forefront of defending jobs and wages not only for themselves but for other workers across Australia. We should support them industrially.

Their fight is our fight. A victory for ATO workers, built on strong industrial action and solidarity,  would be a  victory for all workers and help drive back the forces of reaction and barbarism who want to destroy our jobs.

The fight means striking against the proposed ATO job cuts and the Government’s ‘efficiency’ dividend.

The job reductions in Operations will supposedly be through natural attrition (which means those who remain do more work) and outsourcing (i.e. selling the ATO assets to a cheaper supplier).   But departure rates from the ATO (i.e. natural attrition) in the present economic climate have slowed markedly.

The ATO sacked 133 contractors as a consequence of slowing departure rates just before Christmas in trying to meet its recent overspend problems.  Why will this be any different?  And this time the target won’t be just non-ongoing employees.

Why outsource?  After all, it seems to be saying that the market will solve the problems of the market.

Outsourcing is basically selling ATO assets such as its call centres. The public service ethos will be replaced by a profit (i.e. even harsher cost cutting) ethos.  Cheaper goods and services are generally of lesser quality.

Standards and timeliness will fall. Revenue collections will also fall. The return on ATO compliance staff is about ten dollars collected for every dollar spent on them.

Alternatively the ATO might contemplate shifting its present call centre staff to a low waged supplier.

Either way letting the ATO get away with cheapening the workforce puts downward pressure on the pay rates of staff who remain.  Maybe that is the real goal of the ATO bosses.

I could just imagine the ATO saying to unions something like:  ‘If you accept a wages freeze for the next 3 years in these difficult economic times, then of course we would make some changes to our plans’. A wages freeze proposal must be a possibility, and that is something the CPSU leadership (but hopefully not members) might accept.

After all if the strong AMWU and CFMEU unions in Western Australia can do that ‘to save jobs’ why not the weak CPSU?

Of course, cutting wages doesn’t save jobs; it just reduces the bosses’ costs and slashes overall aggregate demand in the economy, something Kevin Rudd tells us we need $42 billion to rectify.  Why contribute to the problem by cutting real wages (i.e. through a wages freeze or outsourcing jobs to cheaper suppliers)?

Large scale outsourcing and job cuts lose expertise.  They contradict the Government’s wishes for employers to retain staff.  They will completely destroy morale in the ATO among both earmarked staff and those who remain.   (It is already very low, if the Commissioner ever bothered to talk to his staff instead of the courtiers around him.)

In fact, possible new employees would now be wise to put the ATO last on their list of preferred employers if this is how they treat staff.

And then there are all those fiddly little details like the Australian Public  Service code of conduct, APS values (e.g. being apolitical) and secrecy laws to protect taxpayers.  How do you impose these requirements on private enterprise workers?  There will be a way, but why create a possible leaky boat from a sound one?

By law the Commissioner has the general administration of our tax system.  Arguably he breaches that legislative duty if he outsources administration to groups outside the ATO.

Letting the ATO and Government get away with cheapening the workforce will put downward pressure on ATO pay rates.

Now is not a good time to sell assets anyway.  Whoever buys them will get the ATO assets on the cheap.

Outsourcing could present conflicts of interest.  Would you outsource the ATO role in Wickenby for example to the Swiss firm Strachans?  Although an extreme example, where do you draw the line when it comes to outsourcing?

All business has as its raison d’etre profit, and tax is a burden on business and profit.  The temptation will always be there to ‘improve the return to shareholders’.  So why risk this by outsourcing?

Finally, privatising major parts of an agency which is at the centre of the governmental function is a blow against the very idea of Government.  It is a switch from social democracy to neo-liberalism – the very opposite of the Prime Minister’s philosophical call to arms in the Monthly magazine this month.

It challenges the very essence of the State and the reason for its existence.  The tax system does not belong to the Commissioner;  it belongs to us.  It is not his to sell.

Presumably the ATO had already told Government about its plans to privatise various functions and cut staff numbers.

The Rudd Government has form on tax and privatisation. It is effectively privatising the tax policy function by setting up tripartite teams (ie with business) to develop tax policy from the start.  (See my article ‘The privatisation of tax law design in Australia‘ for a fuller explanation. )

The silence of this Labor Government on the ATO’s privatisation push indicates that for all Rudd’s talk about social democracy this is a neoliberal Government continuing, not breaking with, the policies of former PM John Howard.

The Rudd Government is the ATO’s silent partner in privatisation and job cuts. The ATO attacks on its own staff show that HowRuddism is a reality.

It’s not as if the experience so far of the ATO with outsourcing has been a success.  The Change Program shows that – now costing $725 million from original costings of $350 million.

Let me just mention SP Ausnet, the company which has responsibility for maintaining power lines in Eastern Victoria. Jeff Kennett sold that state responsibility to them.  Some believe that a faulty power line caused the recent Kinglake bush fire, a fire which killed 100 people.

I am opposed to privatisation but I have one suggestion, perhaps tongue in cheek. Instead of privatising low level workers, privatise the ATO Senior Executive Service (the bosses.)  There are about 280 of them.

They cost the ATO (taking into account wages, superannuation, travel, accommodation, free parking,  office space and the like) around $100 million a year.  To reduce labour costs, halve their number and double their workload.  Or sell them to an accountancy firm to manage our revenue system.

What is the solution?  The ATO are committed to screwing their workers.  As the CPSU says:

Worryingly the figures provided to CPSU in the briefing could not be achieved voluntarily in the next three years. CPSU has requested details of exactly what workforce mix ATO is seeking in Operations.

The CPSU focus is wrong.  The question is not how the reductions are to be achieved. The real question is how to oppose any reductions.

As I have written elsewhere (‘Rudd Labor to sack thousands of public servants?‘):

If you are a public servant, and not a union member, now would be a good time to join.  But don’t imagine that somehow the “union” will save you without you doing anything. The union leadership is essentially a conservatising force, afraid of industrial action and wedded to the ALP and the fear of upsetting it.  So if you do join, join prepared to argue and agitate for mass meetings, demonstrations, bans and strikes to defend public services, jobs, wages and conditions. Join and fight!

These meetings, bans and strikes should be on the union agenda now to force the Government to back down before their attacks become a debilitating and confidence destroying fait accompli. The added bonus is that such action would help rebuild the union, tainted from years of collaboration with the employer and class enemy – Hawke, Keating, Howard and Rudd.

For references to Government include the ATO.

CPSU members in the ATO should fight and call on other CPSU members to join them in their struggle against the efficiency dividend. They should demand other unions back their actions.  Only concerted strike action now, organised by rank and file members, can stop these vicious attacks from both the ATO and the Government.

In doing that, people would flock to join the union.  The time for pussyfooting and negotiating with the class enemy is over. No compromise, no capitulation.  Defend jobs and wages.  Strike now to stop the ATO and Government attacks on tax staff.

John Passant is a former Assistant Commissioner in the ATO.

Advertisement

Comments

Pingback from time » Blog Archive » En Passant » 9000 Tax Office jobs to go?
Time February 15, 2009 at 4:30 pm

[…] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe briefing revealed that ATO wants to massively reduce the number of ongoing full time jobs (from 82.5% to 35%) in Operations – and massively increase the number of part time, non-ongoing and outsourced/labour … […]

Comment from Dame Ingrid O’Hara
Time February 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Dear dear John, Must you refer to yourselves always as a boss?? Have you no shame.

Comment from Arjay
Time February 15, 2009 at 7:38 pm

Sometimes we have to accept that the system is stuffed and we have to make sacrifices at all levels of society.

Whether it be Labor of Liberal,our bureaucracies over the last 40 yrs have become too large for our real economy to be able to support them.When China stopped buying ,it was the deathnell for the feel good notions of expanding bureaucracies.That is the reality.

Bureaucracies do not create surplus wealth that can be taxed.It only happens in the real world of survival & productivity.

Comment from Brett
Time February 16, 2009 at 4:22 pm

John,

The fundamental assumption of this post – that being that the reasons that tax office does what it does are in fact reasonable – is where this goes wrong.

One of the reasons that the ATO is so bloated is because of the problems inherent to our current tax code. There is no reasonable reason for the ATO to have an enforcement division, except that there is our astonishing churn of tax revenues (and so people incorrectly getting money when they shouldn’t) and the idiocy of our deductibility rules. Of course, all of this is overshadowed by the stupidity of the complexity of the sum of the rules.

Simplification of these rules has been talked about for a long time. Hopefully it will occur at some point.

While there aren’t many things that I agree with the LDP on, their tax policy is certainly one of them. I’d encourage you to read it here: http://www.ldp.org.au/federal/policies/tax.html

With a reasonable tax system, we wouldn’t have the ATO bloated the way that it is and we would have reason to downsize it appropriately, be that moving people to private enterprise, other parts of the government or whatever. If the only other consequence of adopting something like the LDPs tax policy was a reduction in the number of accountants employed within this country, i don’t think the average man on the street would object.

Comment from Brett
Time February 16, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Sorry, i should say that I agree with large parts of the LDP tax policy – no all of it.

Apologies

B

Comment from John
Time February 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Brett

you describe the ATO as bloated. Where is the evidence for that? International comparisons show it is one of the most ‘efficient’ (I hate that term because it mean screwing more and more out of your workers for little recompense) tax offices int eh world.

I agree about a simple tax system. you should read my article on privatising the tax law design role in Australia (linked in the article). I mention the tax value method as precisely that – a method big business and large advising firms eventually rejected, along with the Board of Tax.

That doesn’t address the present situation where because of so many rules, and differing principles, you need tax officers to hold the hand of business at every step of the way. Cut the ‘bloated’ ATO as you call it and taxpayers and the revenue suffer.

Comment from John
Time February 16, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Arjay

You and I agree the system is stuffed, apparently. So why not change the system to one that will work? A Democratically planned one, to produce goods and services to satisfy human need.

Comment from Brett
Time February 17, 2009 at 9:23 am

John,

Perhaps my last comment was unclear. And perhaps ‘bloated’ is the wrong word to use because of the connotations associated with it.

I wasn’t saying that the ATO is bloated for what it does, but rather I was challenging that it needs to do all of the things that it does, and so need to be the size that it is.

Ignoring company tax (inc superannuation) and the GST for the moment and focussing on personal income tax, imagine if we were to remove all tax churn (i.e. removing the baby bonus, the FTA/FTB etc) and to remove all tax deductions, the tax office would not need an enforcement arm, general compliance would be simpler and the ATO would instead simply revert to a collections office. Surely this is preferable, and so therefore the ‘bloated’ ATO could reasonably shrink to a size which reflected it’s smaller mandate.

Now, applying the same logic to company tax is certainly less straight forward, however there have been, for some time, a call to simplify company tax. Even if there was a simplification magnitude of (hypothetically) 20% then that would also mean that the ATO could become significantly smaller to (again) reflect its duties.

My point is that the ATO is too big because of what it’s mandated to do. Shrinking the mandate doesn’t mean shrinking the volume of revenue and so would be a easy way for Rudd to get his ‘efficiency dividend’.

Comment from John
Time February 17, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Brett

You and I agree on the need to reform the tax system, both root and branch and to rid it of the various concessions and grants. My tax grants article on this site (hit the tax link on this article and it will take you to tax archives) concentrates on super and other big ticket items, but I’d remove the the family tax benefit etc.

Why should the tax system be a grants system as well as a revenue system? We should not confuse the two. See my article $73 billion in hidden tax grants down the drain?

I also argue that the Tax Value Method (or TVM) would ahve done precisely what you argue – simplify the whole system (although it did pander to special concessions). But strategically it might have been a good opening to get rid of these concessions.

TVM is basically a cash flow method of tax. As I said in my privatisation of tax law design article on this site (check the tax archives) it is cash flow plus any changes in the tax value of assets.

The impact on the staffing levels of the ATO is unknown, although presumably teh transition period would require lots o staff for a few years. And once you move concessions and grants out of the system you still need people to administer them in the area they go to. (Assuming they are not abolished.)

Comment from Joe
Time February 19, 2009 at 4:16 pm

John
Get real, I do not know execs who are waste of space but I know there are many lower level staff and higher level (APS 5 and above) who better off not coming to work because we do not know whether they make a difference or not. Can’t you see? Privatise the ATO to motivate people, shape up or ship out.

Comment from John
Time February 20, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Thanks Joe.

I knew lots of senior managers who were more interested in repeating the latest management line or doing things they way they had always been done than in thinking creatively.

But that is not the major point of the article. (It was an aside to show where ATO management’s priorities lie.) I was trying to raise the possibility of massive job losses at the ATO, using the logic behind the attacks on operations staff as my guide to their possible magnitude.

This would destroy the already low morale, the capacity to collect revenue and handling major changes like the Henry tax review recommendations. It may also be that the proposed ATO attack on Operations is a feint to prepare for a wages freeze and/or some other attack on staff conditions.

Comment from jerked ATO officer
Time March 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Brett: The ATO relies heavily on a risk management approach when it comes to our compliance activities. Small to medium enterprises are a large focus of this not personal returns. To be frank we don’t have the time or funding for it to be any other way. This means that although (I completely agree) the current system is overly complicated and outdated, that most entities are selectively given a hands off approach. If it’s low risk, low value, data-matched we generally just hand over the refund etc. and try to get out of the way. I believe the UK has a system similar to the one you are suggesting but like John’s has pointed out the ATO gives more bang for your buck anyway. It would still require some level of operational processing too.
I agree the tax system has a long way to go in terms of simplification but in the meantime less staff means a reduced service to the community already clearly struggling with its complexities and to be frank often their own business acumen.
John: Great article. Did you notice that recruitment is down 95% from last year. I’ve been bumped from 6 different roles in the last 9 months both as an individual and in a section of 71 people all due to budget restraints. Although I’m passionate about different challenges in tax administration I am looking else where. This is obviously a sign of things to come. It’s a pity that more are not considering what are our communal expectations for government/administration and the personal information they store about us. Unfortunately it will be left up to the individuals more concerned with correcting an the inherited blunders or their performance bonuses.

Comment from Brett
Time March 30, 2009 at 9:02 am

Jerked ATO Officer (JATOO),

I understand what you’re saying about the ATO’s approach to risk management. Given the way the rules are, it’s understandable that the ATO would run things this way – as you say, the resource requirements to do it any other way aren’t reasonable.

For the record, the UK way of doing things, while not perfect, does have some good aspects – for your average Joe on the street, not needing to submit a tax return is a very good thing. It does make payroll calculations for tax, NIS and other statutory deductions more complex, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (tho it can be tough on small business).

Australia can learn a lot from other countries, and I’d suggest a hybrid approach of Hong Kong (i.e. a flat income tax rate), the UK (and many of their former territories) system where a variable period deduction and self reconciliation is part of their process and some other countries would be a good start.

I think that that the thing that both John and I agree on (and there aren’t many things) is that if you’re going to keep the business processes the same, but cut the workforce, then that’s not really a very good thing and it’s going to cause trouble, be that in the delivery of those business processes or in other forms.

Certainly, at the end of last decade when I was in the public service, there was some fat in the employee numbers and there was an opportunity to cut back that fat, however I think that time has long since past.

What galls me about the politics of this country is the lack of willingness to do things properly. This is equally true true of Rudd as it was of Howard. If they want to get an “efficiency dividend” then how about they streamline the processes so that not as many people are required, which then generates people who can either be redeployed or made redundant. This is in contrast to them simply cutting numbers and expecting the same processes to work.

I’ve said before that our political system is voters choosing the lesser of the various evils on offer. Very few people that I talk to genuinely want to vote for those politicians on offer, but because we (rightly) have a compulsory voting system, we have to vote for those who least offend us (or cast a donkey vote). This is, in my opinion, not the way that a democracy should work, tho I can’t really see how it could be another way.

BN

Comment from Graeme Moore
Time April 4, 2009 at 10:52 pm

John

(I work in Operations Superannuation Debt area APS5) I can tell you that despite the bloated management and director numbers (not to mention executive) the big targets at the moments are the APS5/4/3 and below.
There are 4000 EL1 staff in the ATO and they dont seem to be getting threatened or targetted. Targetted as in their job functions being removed and thrown to other states or moved from one office in a city to another. Its purely the coalface levels. Those who have some impact on the base work (the churn that represents the bulk of the work in Operations be it collecting taxes, lodgements, keying, correcting, giving advice, or answering client queries, or chasing up information of tax dodgers etc). So I can tell you that while there is fat at these levels its still not the higher ups who are getting the shake up in this organisation. Its the ones who have to put up with their mistakes and balls up that will reap the negative fallout.

Comment from Big G
Time April 10, 2009 at 5:52 pm

Graeme

John is basically a left wing Marxist troll. He takes a rumor and uses it to scare people senseless because that is what helps him get his rocks off. I am at the exec level in the ATO and privy to much of what is going on and this pulp that John purports to be fact is far and away not the reality facing the ATO. In 12 – 18 months as budgets stabilise and we get what we need to do the job then things will be a lot more clear. Till then natural attrition in all business lines will get us to where we need to be. And as for you John….shame! You stress a lot of good people out and I must say “no wonder you arent with us in the ATO anymore as your attitude is plainly inexcusable.”

Comment from bob the disgruntled PS
Time April 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Cant help noticing how Mr Passant started all this rumor mongering and promptly stopped posting on the board. Perhaps he is sleeping with Karl Marx ghost too much as the previous poster says.

Comment from Mary Mary
Time April 12, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Its the end of the world!!!!!!!!!!
Repent and be saved all yee sinners…..the end of days is here….plague, pestilence, global warming, global freezing, and all global weather in between……, credit crisis, anarchy…….repent, repent…….yee sinners

Comment from B1
Time April 12, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Rudd is the anti christ!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comment from John
Time April 13, 2009 at 3:19 pm

I am not posting while my new employer approves (or not) this outside activity. Bill and Leonie, who will post in my absence, are in Melbourne at the marxism 2009 conference over Easter.

Comment from Sarah
Time April 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Sad to hear John that you need permission in a modern society to contribute to a blog. I was a non ongoing PS with the ATO but got a permanent APS2 position recently and am keen to see how the forthcoming agency agreement and Fed Budget affect the department. We have occassional visits by our directors and exec but no one really says anything that doesnt change in 4 weeks time to be the opposite of what they promised. Makes for lowering of staff morale. Especially mine as I was 2 years unemployed before I found work with the ATO. I like the work, I just dont like the uncertainty. I expected this in private sector but not PS. Oh well…shall see what transpires. Good luck on your new employer by the way