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SENATOR PARER -I understand that the emphasis in the Department of Administrative Services in the last 12 months has been to get each business operating efficiently and effectively. By and large it was claimed by the Department at a seminar towards the end of the last year that it had achieved this objective. Does the AGPS believe that it has achieved that objective or is it one of the exceptions to the `by and large' rule?

MR MCALISTER -I do not believe that we have ever made such a claim. We have made the claim that we are improving. We have come a long way, we are doing better, but we have a long way to go-and that is across the overall Department . Currently only a couple of our businesses are making profits. In the next year or so I hope that a whole range of businesses will be making profits. Steve Palywoda can talk specifically about printing. We are certainly doing better but we still have a fair way to go.

SENATOR PARER -I am asking specifically about printing.

MR PALYWODA -I think we have come a long way. In this financial year we are looking at a break-even point and next year we are budgeting for a 5 per cent return on sales and about a 15 per cent return on investment. That does not mean that there will not be some pain in the process. We clearly have to look hard at some of our work practices, such as shift arrangements. The impact of technology has probably been felt the greatest in the printing industry in the last decade. We have to undergo a major rationalisation of our plant and equipment.

SENATOR PARER -I want to address work practices. Does the $356,000 provided for in the additional estimates relate to the difficulties you have encountered in the ability of the AGPS to be able to use that technology rather than continue those work practices? What are the work practices that you are talking about?

MR PALYWODA -I do not believe that the additional estimates reflect that issue . The additional estimate of $356,000 is in two parts. One part relates to $ 218,000 which, when we submitted the original estimate in January 1989, was our best estimate of the community service obligations, which cover such things as the Ministrial Document Service, the Commonwealth Directory, the ministerial directory, the cataloguing function, editorial and design, Hansard distribution, Library distribution, the setting of standards and guidelines, and the provision of the legislative service. They are not really activities that are tied up in the printing function as such; they are largely a distribution activity with some printing involved as well. The other part of that additional estimate-$138,000-relates to the effect of salary increases as a result of national wage cases in November 1989.

The fundamental issue facing AGPS is the fact that the capacity of the Printing Office is geared to meeting the peak needs of the Parliament. The Parliament sits for short periods and it is a matter of keeping that capacity fully utilised when parliament is not sitting. That relates to questions of shift arrangements when Parliament is not sitting. At the moment we are operating a three-shift arrangement. We are in the process of negotiating with the primary unions, particularly the PKIU, regarding changes to those shift arrangements when Parliament is not sitting, as part of efforts to improve efficiency and productivity. We need to negotiate some manning level issues as we bring new equipment into the place. Clearly, some of the old equipment required manning levels significantly in excess of those required by some of the new computer-aided electronic type equipment. Therefore, part of the agenda with the unions will be to negotiate those revised manning levels.

SENATOR PARER -You said that when Parliament is not sitting you still run three shifts. Is that what you are now negotiating to remove?

MR PALYWODA -That is correct.

SENATOR PARER -So you run the same number of shifts whether or not Parliament is sitting?

MR PALYWODA -That is right.

SENATOR PARER -What do those people do when Parliament is not sitting?

MR PALYWODA -We do two things. The Printing Office tenders to our Publishing Service for general printing work and wins some of that. We use some of that down time when Parliament is not sitting to multi-skill, train, and update the skills of our staff. But that is not to say that there is not significant down time when Parliament is not sitting.

SENATOR PARER -I thought what you were saying was that while Parliament is not sitting, you operate the same shifts as though Parliament is sitting. Is everyone gainfully employed? If not, what percentage would not be gainfully employed when Parliament is not sitting?

MR PALYWODA -It varies depending on what other work is flowing through the AGPS at any particular time. It depends on what other parliamentary work, committee reports, legislation, other sensitive or urgent security work, might be coming out of other areas of Government. I do not have any exact figures with me. If we look at the five weeks or so leading up to the current sitting of Parliament, on average there was about 1,000 hours per week down time, across an organisation of 950 people.

SENATOR PARER -You mentioned the introduction of new equipment. Is it a fact that at this stage there has not been an acceptance of the usage of that new equipment?

MR PALYWODA -No, that is not correct. At the moment we are upgrading the Penta typesetting system to take the electronic transfer of Hansard. At the moment we are going through testing and the training of staff. The Webb Solna offset which was installed 18 months to two years ago is fully operational and is being effectively utilised.

SENATOR PARER -How long has that equipment for the electronic taking of Hansard been installed?

MR PALYWODA -We are upgrading the Penta system now. In negotiating with Hansard we are looking to do a week's full simulation commencing on 23 July and go live in the Budget session for Hansard, and then in the Autumn session for other documents from the House of Representative and Senate departments and from Parliamentary Counsel.

SENATOR PARER -When was the equipment installed?

MR PALYWODA -We have been capable of taking electronic transfer for some years .

SENATOR PARER -It has taken this long for you to get acceptance for its use?

MR PALYWODA -No, we have been ready. It is a question of whether the parliamentary departments and Hansard have been ready and capable of doing it from their end.