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Monday, 13 May 1985
Page: 1796

Senator MAGUIRE —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services to the Commonwealth's annual rent bill and the increased cost of providing Commonwealth-owned office accommodation in the central business districts of major capital cities. I ask: Is the Government taking action to decentralise public sector employment away from the expensive central areas? If so, what information can the Minister provide?

Senator RYAN —I am advised that the Government has been concerned for some time about the rapidly escalating rent bill. The Department of Local Government and Administrative Services in consultation with other government departments and authorities is examining ways in which the Commonwealth can save money on office leases in capital cities. A review is being undertaken to identify branches of departments that could be relocated outside the central business districts. The review is also examining new proposals to lease space in the central business districts in favour of construction or leasing cheaper accommodation in suburban areas. Apart from the obvious benefit of lower rental costs, other significant advantages of decentralisation which accrue are reduced urban congestion in capital cities and the location of government services and facilities nearer to the homes of its employees and the public they serve. I understand that a number of departments are evaluating the scope for centralisation of their activities. The Department of Local Government and Administrative Services will be providing every assistance to departments to implement decentralisation proposals in pursuit of Labor's regional development policies.