How strong is support for decreasing the size of the public service?

For last week's Party Games I polled on the Queensland government's policy of cutting the public service by 20,000. The results were interesting. Even though our sample seemed to lean to the left only 35% were opposed to down-sizing, versus 52% in favour and 11% neutral. That's a reasonably strong position for the government.

The composition of our sample seemed to lean a little towards Labor with a 50/50 two-party preferred vote. Given the results of the election and the last quantitative polling I've seen that's 5 to 10 percentage points closer to Labor than the general population. It makes the result more robust for Newman as LNP voters were overwhelmingly in favour of downsizing.

As the graph shows, this is a polarising issue, with more people on the extremes than in the centre.

Support PS Cuts 12 07 20

Distribution by first preference voting intention was also interesting.

Support PS Cuts Party 12 07 20

LNP voters are very likely to agree with public service cuts, but there are also significant numbers of Labor voters in the "Agree" and "Neither agree nor disagree" camps. 

The Leximancer Map shows the various strands of argument.

PS Cuts Why 500px


 Those strongly in favour of cuts are concerned about government debt, the rate at which the public service has increased, pay to top public servants. As you move towards the opposite position there is a concern that cutting public servants will cut services and also have an effect on the Queensland economy. There is also a disdain for Newman and the LNP at the point of strongest opposition. 

While Bob Katter's Australia Party supporters tend to be in favour of reducing the public service, on the Leximancer map they show as being concerned about services. While their support will be crucial in future Queensland elections, they do not necessarily fit easily into the existing political paradigm and could support either side.


'Public - Service' has become an oxymoron. Security of tenure and certain labour laws for dismissal have created a culture of slack work ethic. Male 45-54

A small number was probably warranted. 20,000 is typical over the top from present premier.Perhaps 2,000 is more appropriate.Also the public service was full of "contract workers" usually on inflated incomes because of being on contract. This was perpetuated because they were not included in the employee tally. Male 65-74

LNP is raising a red herring. The debt issue is grossly exaggerated to paint a dark picture. When the mining projects gradually come on board soon, QLD coffers will be filled with cash & LNP will claim credit for good economic manager. Public servants are the cannon fodder Male 55-64

Government has continured to swell during the good times, this should be viewed as a right sizing not a downsizing. Male 45-54

A smart government would be looking at rteform to improve productivity and service, morale and excellenbce. This is a dopey backbush mob. Male 65-74

We need Public Servants to service Govt. Maybe we could trim back upper Management and not touch frontline staff. Male 55-64

’Public - Service’ has become an oxymoron. Security of tenure and certain labour laws for dismissal have created a culture of slack work ethic. Male 45-54

I think reductions could be achieved by natural attrition over time. The public servants didn't cause the deficet. Male 55-64

I do believe some change and review of efficiencies is in order and this may mean some job losses, but what's happening now is arbitrary and takes no account of real productivity and best use of public funds - and there's no sense of how things will be managed post the cuts. Very short sighted. Female 55-64

Just look at the number increase in the past five years - about 25%. Business has not increased its workforce by anywhere near the same percentage (ex mining) Must be padding and inefficiency everywhere ( or jobs for the boys) Male 55-64

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-2 #1 RE: How strong is support for decreasing the size of the public service?Hasbeen 2012-07-22 21:06
It would appear that quite a few of your respondents are green public servants.

What a surprise