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Monday, 19 September 1994
Page: 936

(Question No. 1495)


Senator Calvert asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 27 June 1994:

  (1) Who is the current chairman of the Industries Assistance Commission (IAC).

  (2) When was the current chairman appointed.

  (3) Is the current chairman based in Melbourne or Canberra.

  (4) Does the chairman of the IAC have provided, at taxpayer expense, vehicles for personal use in both Melbourne and Canberra; if so, why.

  (5) Where is the current headquarters of the IAC.

  (6) Was the IAC ever based in Canberra: if so, for what period.

  (7) If the IAC has ever been relocated from Canberra, what were the reasons behind such a move.

  (8) Are a number of IAC staff currently commuting between their homes in Canberra and IAC offices in Melbourne.

  (9) Are staff from the IAC in Canberra accommodated at the Regent Hotel in Melbourne when in that city.

  (10) What has been the staff travelling costs incurred by the IAC over the 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1993-94 financial years.

  (11) What has been the staff travelling costs incurred by the IAC for travel between Melbourne and Canberra for the 1991-92, 1992-93 and 1993-94 financial years.


Senator Cook —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  The question concerns the Industries Assistance Commission (IAC) and aspects of its operation. The IAC ceased to exist in 1990 when its Act was repealed at the time of the establishment of the Industry Commission (IC). Answers have therefore been provided with respect to the IC rather than the IAC.

  (1) Mr Bill Scales, AO.

  (2) Mr Scales was appointed in May 1992.

  (3) Mr Scales is based in Melbourne. He visits Canberra, including the IC's Canberra office, regularly.

  (4) The Chairperson of the IC has a privately plated Commonwealth vehicle for personal use in Melbourne. In Canberra, he had a privately plated Commonwealth vehicle for personal use until December 1993—since then he has available, for official use, the IC's Z-plated courier vehicle. The Chairperson's remuneration and entitlements are as prescribed by the Remuneration Tribunal. These include access to entitlements of officers of the Senior Executive Service, including a privately plated Commonwealth vehicle.

  (5) The IC's Head Office is in Melbourne at Collins Tower, 35 Collins Street.

  (6) and (7)

  The IC (and before it, the IAC for many years) was located in Canberra from its inception in 1990 until the Government's announcement in May 1992 that it would be relocated to Melbourne. The then Treasurer subsequently announced on 8 April 1993 that the IC would retain a presence in Canberra and confirmed it would be headquartered in Melbourne. The move of the IC to Melbourne has been taking place progressively since the time of the first announcement. The move to Melbourne was designed to enable the Commission to capture the benefits of greater contact with private sector industry including greater staff mobility between the Commission and the private sector.

  (8) No. IC staff based in Canberra regularly visit Melbourne for meetings which on occasion last several days.

  (9) When Canberra based IC staff travel to Melbourne on authorised official business, they receive travel allowance at the prescribed Public Service rates. They are free to make their own accommodation arrangements and they meet such expenses out of these allowances. A number of them stay at the Regent Hotel, where a favourable "corporate" rate has been negotiated. The Regent Hotel is located close to the IC's Melbourne Head Office.

  In addition, staff who are permanently relocated from Canberra to Melbourne receive settling in allowances as prescribed by Public Service conditions of service, in order to give them time to find suitable permanent accommodation. Out of these settling in allowances they meet any temporary hotel accommodation expenses. Some of them have chosen to stay at the Regent Hotel.

  (10) Staff and Commissioners' travelling costs in the last three financial years have been as follows:

  1991-92—$624,253

  1992-93—$1,219,825

  1993-94—$1,788,994

  It should be noted that the IC's principal function is to hold public inquiries into matters referred to it by the Government. This involves Commissioners and staff in extensive travel to different parts of the country in order to engage in necessary industry visits, public consultations and public hearings. The travel costs above embody these activities. A significant part of the growth in travel costs can be attributed to the Melbourne relocation—see response to question (11).

  (11) Travelling costs according to destination are not recorded as a matter of course. (They are recorded with respect to particular public inquiries—see IC Annual Reports.) The information could be estimated, at considerable cost, if required. However, Commissioners' and staff travelling costs attributable to the Melbourne relocation are separately recorded and are as follows:

  1991-92—$2,010

  1992-93—$392,451

  1993-94—$702,947

  These costs include the costs of travel between the offices and the costs of travel associated with relocation of staff and recruitment.

  The cost of the relocation of the IC's Head Office to Melbourne has been reported through Budget estimates and the IC continues to operate within agreed cost estimates.