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Thursday, 5 December 1974
Page: 4773

Mr Snedden asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   With reference to the answer to Question No. 1201 (Hansard, 12 December 1973, page 4667) in which he provided me with details of positions abolished in each Department in 1972-73, who initiates the process of reviewing possible redundant positions in departments.

(2)   Does the Permanent Head of each department have a part to play in this process.

(3)   If so, how does he undertake this role.

(4)   How many of the 2,765 positions abolished in 1972-73 were substituted by the creation of another position.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The primary responsibility for reviewing possible redundant positions rests with Permanent Heads of departments and those Statutory Officers with powers of Permanent Head. In pursuance of its statutory duties under the Public Service Act, the Public Service Board from time to time takes the initiative by asking a department to review a certain area of work where there may be the possibility of redundant positions.

(2)   See (I).

(3)   Permanent Heads are free to decide their own approaches to the way in which they will carry out their responsibilities under the Public Service Act and Regulations to report to the Public Service Board on the need to abolish an office. By way of illustration, the Board has informed me that the means adopted include:

(i)   Specific reviews of the staffing need in areas where work programs have been finalised, workloads are reducing or where changing government or departmental priorities and procedures have potential effects on staffing.

(ii)   Broader based cyclical review programs which subject various areas of the Department to scrutiny in turn.

(iii)   Annual review by officers in charge of departmental branches and sections in conjunction with annual departmental estimating procedures.

(iv)   Investigatory projects relating to systems, methods and work procedures, office mechanisation and the like.

(v)   Joint departmental and Public Service Board studies of various types.

(4)   I am informed that the establishment records maintained by the Public Service Board, whilst indicating which positions have been formally abolished and which positions have been formally created, do not readily indicate cases in which the abolition of a position is matched by the creation of another one for similar work. To extract that information would require manual search and analysis of the circumstances disclosed by a total of something like 3000 files and I am unwilling to authorise the required expenditure to extract that information from the separate file records relating to each individual case.

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