Labor to follow Coalition lead on slashing government jobs

AFTER sounding warnings from Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that he would slash between 12,000 and 20,000 jobs from the Federal public service, the government has followed suit, revealing Tuesday's budget will reveal public service cuts of $580 million over four years.

It will be a difficult budget week for the government, with the Opposition to continue trumpeting the claims made by Treasurer Wayne Swan in last year's budget - predicting a surplus of $1.5 billion - to now having to announce a deficit of potentially $17 billion.

The government's jobs plan focuses on "better managing" higher level administration staff earning more than $95,000 per year and cutting the floor space of bureaucratic offices.

Those on Executive Level 1 or 2 will be targeted, as would the Senior Executive Service - public servants with salaries ranging from $90,000 to more than $350,000 a year.

Media reports suggested up to 400 would go under Labor's plan but Finance Minister Penny Wong would not confirm figures.

Ms Wong said the Labor plan was in contrast to the Coalition's plan to cut up to 20,000 jobs "which would impact on the important services Australian families rely on".

The Opposition has previously said it would aim to cut about 12,000 positions over five years, through natural attrition.

Late last week Mr Abbott said he would also announce a Commission of Audit - a tactic used by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman - used to bring government asset sales front of mind and justify significant changes to the public service.