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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 8113

Human Services

(Question No. 2152)

Senator Humphries asked the Minister for Human Services, upon notice, on 10 September 2012:

In regard to each department and agency within the Minister’s responsibility:

(1) Has there been a reduction in the number of plants in departmental and agency offices; if so: (a) by what percentage; (b) on what date did it come into effect; (c) what was the reason for the reduction; and (d) how much will each department and agency save as a result.

(2) What is the budget for the facilities management branch (or equivalent) in the: (a) 2011-12; and (b) 2012-13 financial years.

(3) What is the name of the organisation contracted to supply plants to departmental and agency offices.

(4) If a reduction in the number of office plants has taken place, when was the contracted organisation first made aware of the decision.

(5) Were staff consulted regarding a possible reduction in plants prior to it taking place.

(6) Have any complaints been registered from staff in relation to reductions in office plants.

Senator Kim Carr The Minister for Human Services has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s question:

(1) There has been a small reduction in the number of plants in departmental offices as sites have been refurbished and existing contracts have ended and not been renewed. Site refurbishments do not include plants in areas other than large common or public areas.

(a) Due to the size of the department’s property portfolio, it is not possible to calculate the percentage reduction in actual numbers of plants.

(b) End dates for various pre-existing arrangements occurred across the 2011-12 financial year and will continue to occur across 2012-13.

(c) The Department’s current accommodation guidelines do not provide for plants to be included in general work areas of existing sites or refurbishments. To bring existing sites into line with the guidelines, the Department is gradually reducing the overall number of indoor plants in general work spaces by allowing existing arrangements to lapse at the end of their current terms. Some larger sites will continue to have indoor plants provided in large common or public areas.

(d) The quantum of the forecast reduction in plant costs is still being determined. Any reduction in costs will be expected to be realised in 2013-14.

(2) The Department does not have a facilities management branch. Due to the size and complexity of the property portfolio, management of the Department’s property and facilities functions spans two branches. The total combined budgets of the branches were $23,266,744 for 2011-12 and $22,391,742 for 2012-13, however, it should be noted that a number of other, non-property, corporate support functions are also delivered from within the allocated budget.

(3) The Department has an outsourced property management services provider - Jones Lang La Salle (JLL). JLL contracts with individual service providers for the provision of plants and has contracts with six providers - Oasis Plant Hire, Ambius Indoor Plants, Instyle Plants, Botanic Plant Hire, Jindalee Indoor Plant Service and Red Cedar Plant Hire. Head Office sites in the ACT are supported via direct contractual arrangements with Living Simply and Instyle Indoor Plant Hire.

(4) The relevant service providers are provided notice in accordance with the respective contract conditions.

(5) Wherever possible, staff are provided with an opportunity to view and comment on the proposed floorplan at the planning stage of a refurbishment. Informal consultation is undertaken with staff in network offices when changes are proposed.

(6) The Property areas of the Department are not aware of any recorded complaints associated with reductions in office plants.