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Monday, 29 August 1994
Page: 545

(Question No. 1568)

Senator Calvert asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, upon notice, on 20 July 1994:

  (1) Are staff of the Defence Housing Authority's ACT Housing Management and Training Centre at Napier Close, Deakin, provided with tea, coffee, milo, biscuits and tissues at the authority's expense.

  (2) For how long has this system operated.

  (3) Does the authority consider it appropriate for taxpayers to fund the provision of such items for its staff; if so, why.

  (4) Is such a procedure general authority practice and at what other locations are such items made available to authority staff at taxpayer expense.

  (5) What has been the cost of providing tea, coffee, milo, biscuits and tissues for authority staff for the 1992-93 and 1993-94 financial years.

  (6) Will the authority take steps to ensure that in future, such items are provided by staff themselves.

Senator Robert Ray —The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) Yes.

  (2) Since the Defence Housing Authority became fully operational—about five years.

  (3) Yes. Since its inception, the Authority's Managing Director has striven to produce an organisation which has a culture of high commitment to Defence families, high performance and high ethical standards. As part of that culture, staff are not directed to perform higher duties nor to work overtime, yet they put in the effort and time that the job demands. There are compensating forms of recognition of work well done, of which free, simple refreshments are part. In purely accounting terms the Authority is certainly no worse off. In terms of efficiency and effectiveness the Authority is a clear winner.

  The Defence Housing Authority Act specifically empowers the Authority to provide amenities, facilities and services to members of the Authority's Staff.

  (4) Yes. The procedure applies at all 32 locations of the Authority.

  (5) The costs are charged to a general item of expenditure and it is not feasible to isolate the precise expenditures on the items mentioned. The Authority estimates the cost at 20 cents per person per working day, giving an estimated cost of around $14,000 per year which represents 0.05% of administration expenses for the Authority.

  (6) No. As explained, provision of the items is part of a highly successful policy of team building.