A major federal government department is maintaining a staff freeze as it awaits guidance on “significant” public sector job cuts, expected early in the new year.
The newly formed Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, which merged two portfolios after September’s change of government, employs more than 1200 people across Australia.
It expects to be affected by the coalition’s plan to reduce public service positions by at least 12,000.
“I will have to make significant reductions in staffing over a period of time. The details of that are yet to be settled,” department secretary Mike Mrdak told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Monday.
While awaiting advice on the method and extent of the cuts, Mr Mrdak said the department was “not continuing with any external recruitment actions”.
“As non-ongoing contract staff contracts start to come up for renewal we will not continue with those except in exceptional circumstances,” he added.
Mr Mrdak said consideration would be given to centralising the department’s operations in Canberra, by potentially removing staff from rural and regional areas.
“We will have to review all of our services and functions across the department over the next year or two,” he said.
“I haven’t reached any decisions about co-location.”
Mr Mrdak is conducting a departmental budget review ahead of the government’s December release of a mid-year economic and fiscal outlook and expects to detail staff cuts early in 2014.