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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3925

(Question No. 571)

Mr Crean asked the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 20 August 1996:

What additional ministerial and electorate office staff costs were incurred by his Department as a consequence of (a) the changed sitting hours which commenced on 1 May 1996, including the House sitting until 11 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, (b) the need for the House to sit beyond the scheduled finishing time on Wednesday, 22 May, Wednesday, 29 May, Wednesday, 19 June, Wednesday, 26 June and Thursday, 27 June 1996, and (c) the need for the House to sit on Friday, 28 June 1996.

Mr Jull —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

It is not clear that any additional staff costs were involved. The honourable Member will be aware that Senior Ministerial staff receive an allowance to recognise long and irregular hours and this allowance remains unchanged regardless of the precise hours which the House sits. Moreover the staff of Ministers' offices work long hours for reasons not associated with the sitting times of the House. In relation to the overtime worked by junior staff it would not be possible without conducting a survey to attribute the cause of the overtime to the sitting times of the House or other reasons.

The honourable Member should also be aware that the Parliament by sitting beyond the scheduled sitting time is able to dispatch business in fewer days ultimately greatly reducing the costs which reconvening the Parliament would involve. More generally the Government's sitting pattern has been devised to optimise the use of Members' time, and that of their staffs, and reduce overall costs.