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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 89

(Question No. 804)

Senator Calvert asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 24 November 1993:

  (1) What is the current employment status of Ms Kristine Clement of the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

  (2) What issues have been raised by Ms Clement in relation to the Australian Bureau of Statistics personnel management.

  (3) What action has been taken to remedy the problems in this area raised by the Merit Protection and Review Agency.

  (4) What events initiated the review of Ms Clement's job performance.

  (5) When did these events occur.

  (6) What action is the Australian Bureau of Statistics taking to assist Ms Clement.

  (7) When is Ms Clement to be given a position which reflects her qualifications and/or experience.

  (8) Why did the Department ignore concerns raised by Ms Clement in relation to access to confidential information.

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

  (1) Ms Clement is a permanent officer of the Australian Public Service employed as a Senior Research Officer Grade 1 in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). She is currently on sick leave.

  (2) Ms Clement has raised a number of issues, related to her employment with the Australian Bureau of Statistics, with the Merit Protection and Review Agency (MPRA) and the Human Rights Commission. These include counselling about her work performance, and allegations of harassment, victimisation and unauthorised release of personal information.

  (3) The matters raised with the MPRA have been the subject of a report which has been sent to ABS and on which ABS has provided comment. As a result a number of changes have been made to ABS procedures to overcome problems identified in the report. Further information is contained in Senator Button's answers to Question No. 2452 asked by Senator Short on 30 November 1992 (see Senate Hansard 10 December 1992, pp 4798—4801)

  (4) Concerns held by Ms Clement's line management about her performance.

  (5) The concerns were based on Ms Clement's performance in the period of approximately January to August 1991.

  (6) Following the MPRA investigation, and in accordance with routine personnel management, temporary redeployment at her substantive level was arranged at her request in another section. Subsequently she was moved to a permanent position in a second section. This is her current substantive position. Extensive efforts were made to accommodate her needs through support from staff counsellors and her rehabilitation case manager following periods of workers' compensation and sick leave. A case management plan was developed in accordance with the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act to fully rehabilitate Ms Clement back into the workplace. Ms Clement initially agreed to, but subsequently rejected, the Comcare approved rehabilitation provider. The case management plan was closed with Comcare's concurrence and the ABS asked Comcare to review Ms Clement's case. The ABS is currently seeking to redeploy Ms Clement, at her request, to other Commonwealth agencies.

  (7) Ms Clement is currently the substantive occupant of a Senior Research Officer Grade l position in the Financial Surveys Section of the Public and Private Finance Branch within the Economic Accounts Division of the ABS. Since joining the section in August 1992, she has undertaken systems development work as well as some research tasks. This work is considered appropriate to her skills, qualifications and experience.

  (8) The ABS has not ignored concerns raised by Ms Clement in relation to access to confidential information. In May 1992, following her allegations of security problems with monthly balance of payments data, the Australian Statistician initiated a full investigation by the ABS Security Section. The final report issued on 23 July 1992, concluded that the security of all balance of payments measures was appropriately tight to protect those measures against any attempt to gain unauthorised pre-embargo access.

  Subsequently, Ms Clement again raised her concerns following the release of the recent ANAO review of ABS computer security. The ABS again instituted a review which confirmed the conclusions of the earlier investigation and of the ANAO review in relation to balance of payments data.