State Government to spend $1.1m in razor gang operation. Advertiser. Greg Kelton

13 August 2010

A STATE Government razor gang, charged with slashing millions of dollars from the Budget, will spend $1.1 million on public servants to help them find the cuts.

The Sustainable Budget Commission, established by Treasurer Kevin Foley late last year to find $750 million savings, has a budget of $2.5 million and may recommend thousands of public-sector job losses.

The 10 public servants from the Treasury and Finance Department will cost $765,000 in 2009-10 and $511,000 in 2010-11, newly released documents show. The figures have been released as a result of a Freedom of Information request from the Opposition.

Opposition treasury spokesman Iain Evans said the documents showed the Commission had allocated more than $1 million for consultants. The Commission budget for 2009-10 was $1.4 million and $996,000 in 2010-11, he said.

The Commission's final report on spending cuts, which the Opposition believes now will be closer to $2 billion than the original $750 million, is expected to go to Mr Foley within days.

Mr Foley has said the report was likely to be released on September 16 - the day of the State Budget.

A parliamentary committee was told this week the Commission had ordered the Health Department to prepare for spending cuts of $450 million - about 10 per cent of its budget. That would cost 4000 jobs.

The Commission's fees so far, not including accommodation or flights, have been $330,000.

Mr Evans said the FoI documents outlined almost $90,000 had been allocated for consultants' flights and accommodation which was included within the $1.4 million assigned for consultants.

He said three members of the Commission - chairman Geoff Carmody, Professor Jennifer Westacott and Bruce Carter - were being paid a daily rate of $3300 each for their work.

Mr Foley said: "We've made it clear we need to make significant savings, and we're lucky to have secured the services of noted economist Geoff Carmody and his team to carry out this important task."

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