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Wednesday, 13 May 1987
Page: 3145

(Question No. 5012)


Mr Hodges asked the Minister representing the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 17 February 1987:

(1) What word processing or computer equipment has been introduced into the Minister's Department and statutory authorities responsible to the Minister since 1982.

(2) Why was the equipment purchased and were any specific targets set in terms of time or cost savings and improved efficiencies.

(3) What has been the cost of purchasing the equipment.

(4) Has the introduction of the equipment necessitated the purchase of new office equipment; if so, what have been the costs of the additional purchases.

(5) Has the introduction of the equipment led to changes in work practices; if so, what has been the nature of the changes.

(6) What has been the incidence of repetition strain injury (RSI) in the Minister's Department since 1982.

(7) How many lost working days have been caused by RSI related illnesses since 1982.

(8) How many persons have been forced to retire from the Minister's Department or statutory authorities responsible to the Minister as a result of RSI and what have been the compensation costs of this early retirement.

(9) Has introduction of the equipment (a) saved money and (b) improved efficiency in the Minister's Department or the statutory authorities responsible to the Minister.


Mr Barry Jones —The Minister for Resources and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) and (3) The table sets out details and costs of word processing or computer equipment introduced into the Minister's portfolio since 1982. The information is provided with the caveat that, in some cases, it has not been practical in resource cost terms to research records to identify and to cost each item purchased since 1982.

Portfolio Agency

Purchases (1)

Estimated

Cost (3)

$

Department of Resources and Energy

Central Office

-Wang OIS 140 with 26 terminals,

1,270,000

-40 Wang Personal Computers for use by keyboard staff

-3 Prime Minicomputers with 67 terminals,

-25 Microcomputers.

Division of National Mapping (NATMAP)

-3 Apple III PC word processors connected to two C.Itoh printers,

78,900

-2 IBM PC XT,

-Business State Processing System,

Business Computer Enhancements (Word Processing/Accounting System).

Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics (BMR)

-Scientific applications computer-Data General MV20 000,

3,571,000

-Seismic Processing System-Vax 11-780,

-Graphics Workstation-Intergraph ``interview'' Graphics Workstation,

-Dedicated Word Processors-22 various makes and models,

-Personal Computers-52 various makes and models,

-Australian Seismological Centre-1 Webster `Spectrum'', 2 Sun 2170s 1 Sun 250, 4 PDP11s, 1 HP150.

Total Department of Resources and Energy

4,919,900

Statutory Authorities

Australian Atomic Energy Commission (AAEC)

596,000

An extensive array of stand alone equipment has been purchased since 1982. The major purchases include 71 microcomputer systems plus accessories, and a Pyramid Based Unix operated text system. Word processing acquisitions have been a Phillips 5002/142 work station unit and 15 Olivetti ET300/ETV111 stand alone units.

In additional to the equipment purchased, the Commission has also upgraded its mainframe computer by the acquisition, at no additional rental cost, of an IBM 4381/3 system to provide enhanced central computing facilities.

Joint Coal Board (JCB)

-2 ICL ME29/45 Mainframe processors with 2 400 1pm line printers, 6 180 megabytes disc systems, 2 magnetic tape drives, 1 graph plotter, 8 VDU screens for each processor.

1,398,900

-6 ICL DRS20 networks, with 37 VDU workstations, 12 matrix printers, 14 letter quality printers, 3 streaming tape units.

The DRS20 has word processing facilities using the ICL DTM plus word processing package.

Approximately 21 screens are used for word processing.

-3 ICL DRS300 networks with 8 VDU screens,

3 matrix printers,

1 letter quality printer.

The DRS300 has word processing facilities using either Wordstar or LEX. One network has been set up for word processing-using LEX with two VDU screens.

-1 IBM PC/XT personal computer with 1 VDU screen,

1 matrix printer,

1 10 magabyte disc storage;

-4 Adler Class typewriters, these are used for word processing.

The Pipeline Authority (TPA)

1,820,000

+65,000 (pa)

Eight minicomputers have been acquired since 1982. The IBM 4331 has been upgraded to the equivalent of an IBM 4361 system at an increased rental cost ($65,000 per annum). The SCADA system for monitoring and controlling the operation of the pipeline network totalling some 1500 kilometres of high pressure pipelines is in the final stages of being replaced by a new SCADA system.

Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority (SMHEA)

One Dual Station Word processor,

345,000

Microcomputer equipment in the form of a UNIX processor-based network,

-A number of personal computers. (Costs not available)

(2) The equipment was purchased to enable the Department and the Statutory Authorities to discharge effectively their many and varied functions, and responsibilities. It is the Department's policy to seek tangible cost benefit justifications for new acquisitions and to strive for greater overall efficiency through the increased productivity expected to result from the use of computing and office automated technology. Where practical, cost effectiveness reviews are undertaken before acquisition. However, the setting of performance/efficiency targets cannot readily be applied in cases where acquisitions of computer equipment are made for scientific research or engineering applications.

(4) Throughout the portfolio the introduction of word processors and other computer equipment has necessitated the purchase of certain new office equipment to outfit workstations with ergonomic furniture, ie tables, adjustable terminal arms, gas lift chairs, printer tables and acoustic hoods for printers. The estimates of the cost of these purchases, where available, are as follows:

Agency

Estimated

Cost

$

Central Office...

100,000

NATMAP...

10,700

BMR...

20,000

(1986-87

only)

Total Department...

130,700

AAEC...

20,000

JCB...

32,200

TPA...

9,670

SMHEA...

(Not

available)

(5) The introduction of word processing and other computer equipment has led to a number of changes in work practices within the portfolio. Some of these changes include:

diversification of keyboard work throughout the organisations requiring administrative, clerical, technical and professional officers to develop keyboard skills;

reduction and, in some instances the elimination of repetitive clerical work in producing reports and documents, thereby optimising resource usage;

reduction in the volume of text entry for the edit and presentation of documents and reports, thereby enhancing the quality of the end product;

introduction of occupational health exercises for keyboard and VDU operators (rest-breaks and eye sight testing);

(6), (7) and (8). Details of the incidence of repetition strain injury (RSI) since 1982, the number of working days lost that have been caused by RSI related illnesses since 1982 and the number of persons who have been forced to retire as a result of RSI and the compensation costs involved in this early retirement are provided in the following table:

Agency

No of RSI

cases Q (6)

No of working

days lost Q (7)

Retirees

No. Q (8)

Compensation

Cost Q (8)

$

Department

Central Office...

59

1,873

2

9,562

NATMAP...

3

598

-

-

BMR...

6

342

1

9,316

Total Department...

68

2,813

3

18,878

Statutory Authorities

AAEC...

5

360

-

-

JCB...

4

140

-

-

TPA...

5

461

2

59,693

SMHEA...

3

144

-

-

Total-Portfolio...

85

3,918

5

78,571

(9) (a) Yes (b) Yes