Why we should be worried about $1.5b ‘hidden army’

This large "ghost army'' of public servants uncovered in a report by former QUT vice-chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake should alarm all Queenslanders concerned with financial accountability.

Former Premier Campbell Newman may have done himself out of a job by dramatically reducing numbers in the state's public service.

But the Palaszczuk Government rapidly brought them back.

Within a couple of years of taking power, Labor had reportedly hired more public servants than were fired under Newman.

Today we learn there is also a small army of contractors being hired by this government which are being kept "off the books,'' but still collecting a $1.5 billion wages bill.

Annastacia Palaszczuk rapidly increased the public service workforce. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
Annastacia Palaszczuk rapidly increased the public service workforce. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

That's on top of the $21 billion in outlays paying the wages of our regular public sector employees.

The bulk of the contractors are being hired in Transport, Education and Health Departments.

Professor Coaldrake has recommended in his report that major changes be made as to how public servants are defined and counted.

Full marks to the government for commissioning an internal report to find out exactly how tax payer money is being spent.

But, as Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said today, it's kind of astonishing that the state had to pay somehow to find out how it pays its own employees.

"It's quite astounding isn't it?'' Ms Frecklington said.

"The Labor Government don't know how much money they've spent, what they've spent it on and what it's for.

"Again it proves my point that Labor is bad with money.''

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington says the bill is ‘astonishing’. Picture Glenn Hampson
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington says the bill is ‘astonishing’. Picture Glenn Hampson