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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2393

(Question No. 5002)

Mr Hodges asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 17 February 1987:

(1) What word processing or computer equipment has been introduced into the Minister's Department and statutory authorities responsible to the Minister since 1982.

(2) Why was the equipment purchased and were any specific targets set in terms of time or cost savings and improved efficiencies.

(3) What has been the cost of purchasing the equipment.

(4) Has the introduction of the equipment necessitated the purchase of new office equipment; if so, what have been the costs of the additional purchases.

(5) Has the introduction of the equipment led to changes in work practices; if so, what has been the nature of the changes.

(6) What has been the incidence of repetition strain injury (RSI) in the Minister's Department since 1982.

(7) How many lost working days have been caused by RSI related illnesses since 1982.

(8) How many persons have been forced to retire from the Minister's Department or statutory authorities responsible to the Minister as a result of RSI and what have been the compensation costs of this early retirement.

(9) Has introduction of the equipment (a) saved money and (b) improved efficiency in the Minister's Department or the statutory authorities responsible to the Minister.

Mr Hawke —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

A. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

(1) Equipment installed since 1982 includes:

Datapoint network (163 workstations);

Personal Computers-several brands (13);

Apple Macintosh (1);

Raytheon Terminals (2); Digital Equipment Corporation (7 word processors);

Olivetti (2 word processors).

(2) The Department's ADP Strategic Plan for 1983 documented a five year forward plan which had as its goals, the increase of office productivity and the enhancement of management decision making through the integration of text and data processing and improved office communications.

Areas within the Department which have or are expected to benefit from automation include the Cabinet Office, Central Registry, Ministerial Correspondence, Personnel and word processing.

Savings equivalent to the loss of 45 staff positions are to be achieved.

(3) Total cost of purchasing the equipment since 1982 is $2,603,967.

(4) Total cost of required office equipment since 1982 is $155,657, comprising:

ergonomic chairs $36,522

ergonomic desks $102,615

printer stands and hoods $16,520

(5) The introduction of automation has led to changes in work practices, particularly in word processing. All non-classified text production is now screen based. File and correspondence retrieval is now computer assisted and electronic mail has improved communication and reduced paper based information.

(6) There have been 74 cases of RSI reported in the Department since 1982.

(7) 7,430 working days have been lost due to RSI related illness between 1 January 1982 and 31 January 1987.

(8) Three persons have been retired from this Department as a result of RSI with a total compensation cost to 31 January 1987 of $91,626.16 comprising:

incapacity payments $86,565.99

medical expenses $5,060.17

(9) (a) Yes (b) Yes.



(1) The Government, after consultation with the States, the Northern Territory and the Australian Council of Local Government Associations, decided to abolish the Advisory Council for Inter-government Relations (ACIR). The ACIR wound down its operations, disposed of its assets and ceased to operate as at 30 October 1986. At that time the ACIR operated the following word processing equipment:

Wang OIS 115-2 word processing system

4 workstations

2 printers with hoods

1 Personal Computer with printer

(2 to 9) Because ACIR has been wound up former staff and records which would have been the source for the information sought are not readily available. To obtain the information sought would require a substantial diversion of existing resources.


(1) Equipment introduced since 1982 includes:

1 terminal for a WANG WPS-1 system

22 Olivetti ETV-300 Text Editor systems

10 Canon A-200 word processing systems

81 Personal Computers and peripheral devices.

(2) (a) Word Processors:

A review of keyboard requirements in Central Office identified a need to supplement the existing centralised word processing system with de-centralised facilities. This resulted in a progressive introduction of 22 Olivetti `test editing' systems for use by Steno-Secretarial staff. The Olivetti systems provided the Office with an improved flexibility to undertake preparation of report paragraphs for the Auditor-General's Report to Parliament.

In 1986, Canon word processing systems compatible with the AAO's Information Technology Strategic Plan were introduced in Regional Offices in each State.

(b) Personal Computers:

The Audit Office has purchased a number of personal computers primarily intended for audit-related tasks such as:

(i) computer-aided technical support,

(ii) support to field audit staff, by providing basic spreadsheet, word processing and data-base facilities,

(iii) analysis of financial statement data,

(iv) assistance with the general management of resources and resource planning within the AAO,

(v) updating data processing knowledge and techniques for audit field staff.

(3) The acquisition cost of word processing and personal computing equipment has been $512,227.

(4) Expenditure on ergonomic furniture is estimated to be:

(a) desks $45,400

(b) chairs $5,950

(c) aids $11,000

(5) Introduction of the equipment has improved operational efficiency but has had minimal impact on work practices.

(6) 24 cases of RSI have come to the notice of management since 1982. 5 of these cases were caused by factors not related to the use of keyboard equipment.

(7) Working days lost since 1982 due to RSI related causes totalled 1,264.

(8) 2 officers have retired due to RSI related factors, at a cost of $18,600 in compensation payments.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.


(1) The following computer systems have been introduced to the Authority:

1 x Honeywell DPS6/94

1 x ,, DPS6/95

1 x ,, DPS6/85

1 x ,, DPS6/54

1 x ,, DPS6/45

1 x ,, DPS6/22

1 x ,, DPS6/40

(2) The equipment was purchased to fulfil the Authority's requirements in developing and administering/monitoring a national year-long program of activities involving Commonwealth funding in the order of $140m. No specific targets were set in terms of time or cost savings and improved efficiencies.

(3) The acquisition cost of the equipment to date is $1,652,852.

(4) There has been some purchase of ergonomic desks for use exclusively with the computer equipment at a total cost of $16,381.

(5) The introduction of the ergonomic equipment has facilitated day to day use of the computer equipment.

(6) The Authority has had 4 cases of repetition strain injury since 1982.

(7) 29 working days were lost through RSI-related illnesses.

(8) No one has been forced to retire from the Authority as a result of RSI.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.



(1) Equipment installed since 1982 includes:

Exxon Word Processing Standalones (6 units)

Wang VS 15 System (20 terminals)

Wang Personal Computer (2 units)

Printers (2 units)

(2) The equipment was purchased to increase efficiency in producing ASTEC reports with less time required in updating drafts. No specific targets were set.

(3) The acquisition cost of equipment to date is $171,291.

(4) Additional office equipment acquired includes ergonomic desks and chairs costing $7,704.

(5) Yes. All officers have terminals, enabling authors to do some of their own keyboard work and freeing keyboard personnel to take on some administrative duties.

(6) Five claims for RSI have been made.

(7) 119 days.

(8) Nil.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.



(1) Equipment installed since 1982 includes:

Data General MV4000 installed July 1984

Data General MV4000dc installed July 1985

IBM PC/XT (2 units) installed early 1984

(2) The equipment was purchased because the Office of EPAC was a new organisation with no existing information base and the opportunity was seen to take full advantage of information technology. It was intended that through the use of such technologies, the number of support staff could be kept low by traditional standards while the speed and accuracy with which information could be sourced, analysed, co-ordinated and compiled into professional reports could be greatly increased.

(3) Expenditure on equipment to date has been $496,979.

(4) Purchases of computer related equipment include ergonomic furniture at a cost of $7,047.

(5) It is difficult to state any direct changes in work practices as the Office has developed around the installed information technology. Suggested changes in work practices relate to the replacement of many manual work tasks by automated tasks (for example word processing, electronic filing and electronic mail), the decreased time to perform a task, the ability to interact with co-workers via electronic mail thus reducing the need for formal meetings, the ability to keep managers better informed of current issues and the improvements in the quality of the working life for most office staff.

(6) One case of RSI has been reported.

(7) 32 working days have been lost.

(8) Nil.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.



(1) Equipment installed since 1982 is:

2 x Olivetti M24 PCs

1 x Olivetti M28 PC

(2) The equipment was purchased to (i) assist the Promotion Appeal Committees secretariat in the processing of appeals, (ii) provide word processing capability and produce grievance statistics, and (iii) support administrative applications such as the Assets Register. No specific targets were set.

(3) The cost of the equipment to date has been $16,865.

(4) New office equipment purchased to date is:

Ergonomic chairs $ 555

Ergonomic desks $3,762

(5) Yes. All routine correspondence relating to appeals is now computer produced. Statistics for promotions and appeals are calculated and produced by computer.

(6) There have been no cases of RSI.

(7) Nil.

(8) Nil.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.



(1) Equipment introduced since 1 July 1982 includes:


Convergent Technologies


Megaframe, NGEN

Number of Units:

Megaframe with 400 MB disk

NGEN x 2 with 40 MB disk

Work Stations x 17

Printers x 3

(2) The equipment was purchased to meet requirements for recording and processing of complaints received, monitoring of progress of investigations of complaints, word processing, accounting, registry and general office administration systems. No quantitative targets were set for time or cost savings.

(3) The acquisition cost of equipment to date has been $234,760.

(4) The acquisition of new office equipment includes:

(a) Desks $6,220

(b) Chairs $4,992

(5) There have been substantial changes to work methods and practices, particularly in word processing and case registration and management. Virtually all text production is now screen based. Manual registers and record cards have given way to electronic storage of much of the case file indexes and records. File retrieval is computer assisted using keyworded indexes. However the case files are and will continue to be conventional paper files.

(6) Eight cases of RSI.

(7) 420 working days lost.

(8) Nil.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.



(1 to 9) The Office was proclaimed on 17 October 1986 and has only recently been established. A secure stand-alone word processing system is on order and the estimated cost is expected to be about $22,000.


(1) Word Processing equipment installed since 1982 is:

1 x Wang 7515T CPU

1 x Wang 7510T Disk Drive

1 x Wang 7510TA Disk Drive

4 x Wang 7582T Printers

1 x Wang 75DW/OS/55T Printer

4 x Wang 7536-4T Workstations

3 x Wang 7510T Archiving Workstations

2 x Wang 7510-OA-T Archiving Workstations

1 x Wang 75PC-02T PC

(2) The equipment was purchased to enable ONA to meet its statutory obligations under the Office of National Assessments Act 1977.

(3) The acquisition cost of equipment to date is $197,660.

(4) The introduction of the word processing equipment was not the sole reason for purchasing new office equipment. Equipment was purchased as part of a replacement program. The opportunity to involve occupational health and ergonomic guidelines in the selection was taken. The total cost of the new furniture has been $10,000. (Desks - $9,000; chairs - $1,000)

(5) There have been changes in work practices for keyboard staff. These include regular breaks, eyesight testing and other occupational health initiatives.

(6) There have been no reported cases of RSI in ONA.

(7) Nil.

(8) Nil.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.


(1) Equipment installed since 1982 is:

4 x Burroughs master workstations (micro-computers)

7 x Burroughs cluster workstations (terminals)

1 x Apple Macintosh micro-computer

(2) The office was purchased to improve the Office's word processing and administrative systems. No specific targets were set in terms of time or cost savings and improved efficiency, but the equipment was introduced at a time when, to do otherwise, would have necessitated either increased staff or reduced efficiency.

(3) The equipment described in (1) above cost $63,000.

(4) Yes.

Ergonomic desks $4,200

Ergonomic chairs $1,700

Document holders $230

Ergonomic terminal arm $350

(5) Yes. The more efficient production of a great volume of typed material, and the introduction of screen based information storage and retrieval techniques involved in its production.

(6) Two cases of RSI have come to notice since 1 July 1982.

(7) 106 working days have been lost since 1 July 1982.

(8) None.

(9) (a) Yet to be fully evaluated but the current indications are ``yes''; (b) Yes.


(1) Equipment installed since 1982 includes:




B25 Series



(2) The equipment was purchased as a result of a consultancy review of the ``ADP requirements of the Office of the Public Service Board'' undertaken in 1983. Cost savings and improved efficiencies were identified in the review.

(3) Total acquisition cost of equipment since 1982/83 has been approximately $1,350,000.

(4) Ergonomic desks (Watts) $85,000

Ergonomic chairs (Co-design) $39,000

(5) The introduction of the equipment has provided access to modern ADP facilities for keyboard and cleri- cal staff.

(6) The incidence of RSI in the Board's Office since 1982 has been 86 reported cases.

(7) The number of lost working days caused by RSI related illness since 1982 is 4,536 days.

(8) There have been no cases of retirement on medi- cal grounds due to RSI.

(9) (a) Yes, (b) Yes.