Tuesday, November 01, 2022

The extraordinary rise of public service fat cats

The extraordinary rise of public service fat cats

Analysis of public sector annual reports by The AFR shows that at least 24 public servants and executives of government-owned corporations received total remuneration of more than $1 million in 2021-22.

The list is headed by NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue, who was paid $2.93 million, up from $2.64 million in the previous financial year. Meanwhile, Snowy Hydro’s former CEO Paul Broad received more than $2.7 million in pay and bonuses, while Australia Post CEO Paul Graham was paid more than $2.08 million:

Senior public servant salaries

Then there are Australia’s university vice-chancellors, who are dining on average salaries of more than $1 million while their rank-and-file staff struggle on temporary contracts:

Earnings of Australia’s 1 percenters soared from the mid-2000s by around 30% per annum once bonuses are included, while the real incomes of the median Australian worker stagnated:

Wage growth by percentile

Top once percenters make like bandits.

Given senior public servant salaries are more or less benchmarked against those of the private sector, this extreme earnings growth in the private sector gave justification for lifting the salaries of senior bureaucrats and GBE executives to their current absurd levels.

The next time you hear the business lobby claim that an increase in wage growth cannot occur because of [insert bogus claim], think of the above chart and ask why senior executives haven’t shown the same wage restraint.

The whole ‘marketisation’ of government agencies and services has clearly failed, delivering over paid fat cats, endless rorting and poor outcomes for taxpayers.

Over the course of 20 years the ratio of Executive and Senior Executive positions across the whole APS has ballooned from 19% to nearly 30%.  That is from one in every five positions being ‘Executive’ or above, to one in every three.  So for every three people the public bumps into behind the glass at Centrelink or Tax there is someone earning more than $120 per annum, and highly likely to be a beneficiary of a defined benefit superannuation scheme.  There is absolutely no work value driving this expansion of executive level positions, it is a political and executive compliance value.

The below charts clearly show just how the Australian public is being milked.  Those at the very top have been largely political appointments, and they make sure the senior ranks underneath them are ‘on song’ with whatever political narrative is spewed out from the top, regardless of what is in the interests of the people of Australia.

This is how Australia ended up with Robodebt.  This is how Australia ended up with an utterly failed census.  This is how access to medical and personnel records has become such an issue that there is a Royal Commission into Veteran Suicides.  This is why when you call Services Australia, the ATO, Medicare or Centrelink you are almost certain to spend a disgraceful amount of time on the phone, will then be told your call is being recorded for ‘coaching purposes’, and will be able to speak to someone who is only allowed to provide answers from a script, regularly in almost unintelligible English, and will almost certainly try to fob you off and online to sort your issues yourself, and is fundamentally not interested in helping you, or any other member of the Australian public.  It is not the fault of the person on the end of the line, because they are told what to say to you.  It is the fault of the Executives and  Senior Executives who use such people as cannon fodder to prevent the public from getting their concerns addressed.  This is how energy policy means Australians get reamed and governments throw their hands up and say there is nothing they can do.  This is how the Population Ponzi never gets mentioned or looked at.

This is how a series of woeful public decisions are made and implemented.  There is a top heavy structure in place to make sure the public aren’t getting served the way they want, and which is there to make sure that the lower ‘people serving’ levels or the types compiling policy reflective of the Australian community, are watched over by a wonderfully remunerated Commisar class making sure anything distasteful at a political or SES level is weeded out of strategic decisionmaking.  And many of those at these levels have their own variant of the ‘Cult of Personality’ alive and well within their branches and Directorates.  The data averse, narrative resistant, whim based and arbitrary decisionmaking environment this represents is reflected in numerous APS surveys suggesting the lower levels have lost faith in their own chiefs.


It’s time to drain the swamp and implement uniform salary structures for government departments, government-owned corporations, statutory authorities and universities. Bring them into line with the rest of the public service workforce, and make them accountable.

Extraordinary rise in GST scam: How SA crime groups are making millions

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Sunday Mail (SA) Online

October 30, 2022 Sunday

By Nigel Hunt, Exclusive


Organised criminals in South Australia are stealing millions of dollars by claiming fraudulent GST refunds, a major investigation into the scam has revealed.

The Sunday Mail can reveal an Australian Taxation Office inquiry and several unrelated SA police operations have discovered organised criminal groups are heavily involved in the illegal activity.

The ATO, which has launched an operation dubbed Protego to investigate the scheme, has confirmed it has raided six properties in Adelaide in connection with the scam, which has cost taxpayers up to $1 billion nationally.

It can also be revealed Operation Protego investigators have referred detailed files on 1,500 individuals in SA involved in the scheme to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission for further investigation.

The ACIC and Operation Protego investigators have "completed an in-depth analysis'' of the individuals and are preparing to take further investigative action.

Sources have told the Sunday Mail they believe many of those involved are using the cash obtained through the scam to directly fund methamphetamine imports into Adelaide themselves, while others are using the cash to fund drug purchases from the other organised crime groups importing the contraband.

Others are simply using the cash - in some instances hundreds of thousands of dollars - to fund their lifestyles and supplement their legitimate business activities.

The fraud involves individuals creating a fake business, applying for an Australian Business Number and then submitting false business activity statements so they can claim GST refunds.

The ATO believes as many as 40,000 individuals Australia-wide have been involved in the illegal activity with up to $1 billion in fraudulent GST refunds made. It has been widely promoted on social media platforms.

Since the ATO launched Operation Protego in April $850 million in fraudulent claims have been stopped.

"This is a clear warning to individuals considering participating - you will not be successful, you are not anonymous, and you will face the consequences of your attempts,'' ATO Deputy Commissioner and Serious Financial Crime Task Force chief Will Day said.

"For those that have already committed this fraud, we know who you are, and you will need to repay the fake refunds you have obtained. You could face severe consequences, including jail if you do not speak to us before we knock on your door. Come forward now or face potentially tougher penalties.

"Most Australians play by the rules and expect the ATO to take action to protect Australia's tax and super systems, and collect the revenue necessary to support the Australian community.''

ATO assistant commissioner Michael Morton last month said the "size, scale and rate of proliferation'' of the scam was unprecedented.

"Some of the participants involved are actually involved in other more serious crimes,'' he said on a CPA Australia podcast.

"You often find that tax evasion is the tip of the iceberg. We've already commenced criminal investigations into many participants and there is a real potential that these people will get some time in jail or face some serious financial penalties.''

In SA, investigators had uncovered multiple individuals within the several organised groups of criminals - who are under active investigation for other serious crimes - who had obtained an ABN, either in their own name or using false identification, and then claimed multiple fictitious GST refunds which were then paid into a bank account and withdrawn.

The individuals have falsely claimed up to $100,000 in GST refunds before closing that ABN and repeating the process after sourcing more identification.

Those involved in the scam were often stealing identification from Australia Post boxes, letterboxes and during break-ins on homes.