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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 14

(Question No. 4480)


Mr Cadman asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 22 August 1986:

(1) What is the present workload of the Newcastle office of his Department.

(2) What is the staffing level of this office.

(3) What range of services does it provide.

(4) What geographical areas does it serve.

(5) On what date was the decision made to close this office.

(6) What is the cost of maintaining the office.

(7) What consultations took place concerning its closure with (a) The regional director, (b) the officers of the Newcastle office and (c) local migrant community groups.

(8) What new arrangements are proposed to serve the requirements of clients of the office.

(9) Will the same number of staff be required; if so how will these staff be deployed.

(10) If not, why not.

(11) What is the cost benefit of the new arrangements over the present operation.


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

(1) The number of applications received in 1985-86 for the main workload activities were as follows:

Citizenship...

1 776

Change of Resident Status...

293

Re-entry Visas...

1 735

Temporary Entry Permit extensions...

660

Reliable statistics on counter enquiries are not available.

(2) At the time of the 1986-87 Budget, the staffing level of the Office was six; one Clerical Administrative Class 6, three Clerical Administrative Class 4s, one Clerical Assistant Grade 3 and one Typist Grade 2. The average staffing level (ASL) at that time was around 8.1.

(3) The range of services previously provided was as follows: migration (including family and occupational migration, and refugees), change of status to resident, temporary entry (including visitors and temporary residents), and citizenship.

(4) Newcastle Office services the Hunter and Richmond mid North-Coast and Northern statistical division.

(5) The initial decision to close the Office was made in response to portfolio savings targets developed in the 1986-87 Budget process. Further investigation revealed other savings options which allow the Office to remain open with reduced staff and functions.

(6) The cost to maintain fully the operation of the Office during 1986-87 (at current prices) would have been $374,000.

(7) Because of the confidentiality inherent in the Budget process, it was not possible to undertake consultation before the initial announcement. Full consultation is taking place currently with those affected.

(8) The Office will continue to carry out its current major functions of handling applications for issuing re-entry visas and providing information. Some workload such as grant of resident status will be transferred to the Parramatta Area Office.

Citizenship interviews will be conducted by Australia Post-this arrangement already applies in cities and towns throughout Australia, including those which are remote from DIEA offices.

(9) No

(10) A reduction of ASL in a full year from 8.1 to 3.5 is planned, i.e. a saving of 4.6 ASL. This reduction is possible because the need for supervision and administrative support will be minimised. Workloads will be handled more efficiently by `streaming' work in the larger office rather than having one officer more frequently move from one function to another as happens in smaller offices.

(11) Estimated net savings to the Commonwealth resulting from reducing the activity of this Office are as follows:

1986-87

1987-88

Staff ...

95 436

163 603

Administration...

Nil

18 162

Total...

95 436

181 765

These estimates exclude possible redundancy payments/redeployment costs in 1986-87 which are not yet known.