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Subprogram 4.3-Administrative support and services

SENATOR TAMBLING - In relation to the batch of questions that I put in earlier , one answer was delivered during the evening, but I notice that one question remains unanswered. It is about staff housing. I appreciate that it is a complex question and may have required some interstate research. Are you in a position to indicate when I can anticipate a reply to that question?

MR PALFREYMAN -We expect the answer to be available within 24 hours.

SENATOR TAMBLING -That is great; thank you. Does the Commission have any specific policy with regard to the sale of residential houses to employees, particularly houses that were originally purchased or built by the Commonwealth?

MR PALFREYMAN -Disposal of Commonwealth property, particularly houses of the Commission, would be handled through DAS in the normal way.

SENATOR TAMBLING -I have been questioning a number of other departments on this issue and they have all indicated that they now have the right to dispose of their properties under their own principles and guidelines; whilst many of them use the agencies of the Department of Administrative Services, they are not bound to dispose of properties through DAS as a formal body. My question is: have you disposed of any staff housing in the last 12 months, or are you anticipating doing so?

MR PALFREYMAN -We certainly have, but we have used the good offices of DAS and we have not taken any decision-either at the executive level or at Commission level-to do anything different at this stage.

SENATOR TAMBLING -Is the basis of valuation of any staff housing that has been sold a current valuation at the date of application to purchase or are you using antiquated or previous Valuer-General valuations?

MR PALFREYMAN -No, we would be looking at current valuations as advised by DAS .

SENATOR TAMBLING -Before selling any staff housing, do you consult with the Defence Housing Authority to see whether it has any immediate needs in the vicinity?

MR PALFREYMAN -I cannot be specific on that particular question. There may well be a consultation with people such as the Defence people that you mention . I would like to take that on notice.

SENATOR TAMBLING -In your funding provisions for the year, what is the level of fringe benefits tax that you have appropriated.

MR PALFREYMAN -We have that figure available, I think.

MR MYERS -It is some 400,000.

SENATOR TAMBLING -Have you got that on a housing basis? Do you allocate it for budget reasons on a per house or per employee basis, or how is it calculated?

MR MYERS -The figure I gave you related to fringe benefits tax and liabilities of the Commission as a whole. I would not be able to give you any information specifically in relation to staff housing. We would have to take that on notice.

CHAIRMAN -That concludes the examination of the estimates for the employment, education and training portfolio, including ATSIC. I thank the Minister, and the officers of the Commission, and also the other agencies, for their attendance.

[9.15 p.m.]