Abbott to freeze government recruitment

2 August 2010

Written by: Jean Kemshal-Bell

Tony Abbott has announced that if elected he will impose a public sector hiring freeze in attempts to reduce government spending. With no further workers employed, the non replacement of 6,000 retiring workers will lower staff levels therefore reducing salary payments and total government expenditure.

The Australian economy hasn’t fully recovered from the effects of the global financial crisis. As a result, employment opportunities are limited, especially for recent university graduates with minimal experience on their resumes.

With Abbott proposing a two-year hiring freeze, gaining employment in a government department goes from being improbable to impossible. This policy could be offputting to current students, as young Australians voting Liberal could potentially be voting themselves out of future career opportunities. Many students enter university with hopes that one day they can apply newfound knowledge within government departments and use their skills to assist their country.

One of those students is Chris, a current La Trobe University student completing a Master of International Relations (Honours) qualification. Chris told upstart, ‘it shows how little Tony Abbott values tertiary education. He is going to remove one of the key reasons I personally undertook university studies – getting a job.’ Chris also said, ‘I can’t afford to wait two more years to gain employment, and I’d love to hear what Mr. Abbot suggests I do with this time.’

Another concerned job seeker is Nina, a recent La Trobe graduate who majored in Legal Studies.  ‘Graduate programs are great for participants to grow their professional experiences and for the government to gain young, enthusiastic and committed staff,’ she said. Nina has planned to apply for graduate programs for multiple departments but after hearing of Mr. Abbott’s plans, she said she would be ‘very disappointed’ if the Liberal Party was successful in the upcoming election.

Tony Abbott already has hard work in front of him this election, but this certainly isn’t going to help his chances of attracting the younger votes from 18 to 25 year olds.

It’s not just public office job seekers that have a problem; the future human resources of the government could be an issue in coming years. Graduate programs normally last between 12 to 24 months, giving employees a variety of tasks and projects before they specialise into their preferred area. After three to five years in their specific role, the former graduates slowly become experts in their field and are ready to take on more senior and managerial responsibilities within their department. In the future, when the next batch of managers are due to be promoted there will be a gaping hole in the government employee talent bank and only to save a few dollars in the present.

Believing the markets have the power to self regulate, the Liberal Party has always promoted a small government. But a government-wide hiring freeze may be excessive, possibly costing the coalition votes they can’t afford to lose.

As a student, does this policy affect who you are voting for? Leave a comment and let us know.

Ryan Jon is a part of upstart’s editorial team and is currently enrolled in La Trobe’s Graduate Diploma of Journalism Program.