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Tuesday, 18 November 1986
Page: 2412


Senator MICHAEL BAUME(5.59) —Firstly, having whinged about the Department I would now like to--


Senator Grimes —I'm sorry; I did not mean that in a pejorative way.


Senator MICHAEL BAUME —Having whinged about the Minister and the Department I would now like to acknowledge, as I should have done when I spoke before, the speed with which the Department corrected a situation that existed within the Commonwealth Employment Service relating to the treatment of people who sought male or female people specifically for employment in home environments. I refer in particular to someone who wanted a middle-aged female to be a nanny for children and who was sent a 29-year-old fellow with convictions for carnal knowledge. I commend the Department for the speed with which it ensured that that situation could not obtain again. The arrangements have been, as I understand it, totally fixed up. While I regret that a misunderstanding about the requirements of the State authorities on this matter of anti-discrimination led to this situation existing in the first place, I commend the Department for the speed with which it fixed it up.

This Department is certainly one of the big spenders on promotion and publications. I note that last year $6.124m was spent under the public communications budget of the Department. I note that it put out a booklet called `The Accord-The First Two Years'. This was a blatant piece of political advertising of no merit whatsoever. It was inaccurate in detail. It spread a message which was garbage and which has been totally disproved. It stated that the accord was so brilliant that the Australian economy was able to rush ahead with great increases in growth and no serious problems, in total contrast to the rest of the economies around the world which did not know how to run things. There is a nice little table in this nonsensical booklet, which we all paid for, which, of course, has since been totally disproved. That bit of inane propaganda for this Government cost us $75,420, with a unit cost of $1.20. If a consideration is the quality of the content, we were overcharged by about $1.19 a copy. It is an absolute disgrace that this Government has got away with this kind of blatant political propaganda paid for by us. As I said, that one cost $75,420. I wonder what proportion of the sum of $6m being spent by this Department is expenditure of that disgraceful category. I understand that a lot of the other expenditure did, strangely enough, relate to training manuals and things like that, which are of some benefit. But I am convinced, having seen that booklet, that a proportion of this money is being wasted, and disgracefully wasted.

I mention in passing that this Department is one of those which have a totally unsatisfactory record in the matter of invalidity retirements. Of the 33 who retired last year through invalidity, 16-just under half-retired because of mental problems and another six because of back or repetition strain injury problems. So 22 out of the 33 retired on bases which are very difficult to diagnose. I find that totally unsatisfactory.

I mention the question of letterheads. I have raised this matter with some other departments. This one is incredible. The departmental letterhead, according to the Department-it is printed on 80 GSM bond-costs 0.001c per unit, according to the sheet I have here. This cost compares with the ministerial letterhead cost of 0.036c per unit. In other words, the ministerial letterhead is apparently 36 times dearer than the basic letterhead. The cost of the National Director's letterhead is 0.97c per unit-that is 97 times dearer than the price of the departmental letterhead. It is just incredible. The note I have here states:

The high cost of National Director letterhead is due to two factors-two-colour format and low numbers purchased.

If that is so, why waste money in this way? Why be so self-indulgent? What is the Government up to? I must say that this is probably the most blatant example of self-indulgence that I have seen in any of these departments. It would be nice to know why.