An essential part of government in Australia is the public service that exists at each level. The total number of such employees at November 2006 was 1,692,300 persons, or approximately 16% of the entire Australian workforce.
Public servants are employed by:
- Commonwealth departments of state, such as the Department of Defence
- state departments, such as education departments
- territory departments, such as the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory Departments of Chief Minister
- parliamentary departments - Commonwealth, state and territory
- the staff of members of parliament
- ministerial staff
- government-owned companies
- statutory authorities, such as the various state electricity authorities
- local government employees.
There are three main functions performed by the public service agencies:
- policy advice
- the oversight of policy implementation
- the provision of the administrative machinery required to deliver the policies of the relevant government or agency.