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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 15019

Ms Hall asked the Minister representing the Special Minister of State, upon notice, on 27 March 2003:

(1) How many Divisional returning Officer (DRO) positions; (a) are currently vacant, and (b) have people acting in the position of DRO.

(2) How many DRO positions does the AEC expect will become vacant over the next 12 months due to retirements and where are these DRO positions located.

(3) What, if any, are the implications for the Divisional AEC offices in the Hunter and on the Central Coast of NSW.

Mr Abbott (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —The answer to the honourable member's question, as provided to me by the Australian Electoral Commission, is as follows:

(1) (a) As at 27 March 2003, 22 DRO positions were not filled on a permanent basis, and (b) all 22 vacant Divisional Returning Officer positions have people appointed as DROs on a temporary basis.

(2) The AEC is unable to provide information on the number of DRO positions that may fall vacant during the next 12 months.

According to Australian Public Service wide workforce statistics, it was expected that a significant number of Public Service employees belonging to the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme (CSS) would opt to retire prior to reaching age 55. This conclusion was based on the assumption that a design feature in the scheme, which resulted in long time senior officers benefiting in monetary terms if they retired at age 54/11, would take effect. To date this has not been the experience of the AEC, who have a number of staff over age 55 continuing to work.

(3) To ensure continuity of service throughout the AEC in the event of staff separations due to transfers, promotions, retirements or resignations there is an active program for succession planning through staff development and other initiatives. The AEC has attracted significant interest from quality applicants when it has advertised vacant positions.