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Tuesday, 4 May 1993
Page: 64

(Question No. 2476)


Senator Ferguson asked the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, upon notice, on 8 December 1992:

  With reference to each of the personnel listed below:

  The Minister

  The Minister's ministerial staff

  The Minister's electorate staff

  Department liaison officers

  Consultants employed in the Minister's office

  Any combination thereof

  (1) What are the details of purchases of office equipment, facilities and services by the department, since the last Federal election, for the use of each listed person or group.

  (2) What are the details of the date of purchase, leasing or otherwise acquiring each individual item (for example, each mobile telephone, each airline lounge membership, etcetera) and the make and model of each individual item or the specific nature and level of the facility or service provided.

  (3) What is the position, salary level and status of the person (Minister, consultant, ministerial staff or electorate staff) in receipt of each item of office equipment, facility or service.

  (4) What was the initial and/or establishment cost of each item, facility or service.

  (5) What are the on-going operating costs of each item, facility or service (for example, lease payments, telephone bills, maintenance costs, stationery, etcetera).

  (6) What are the specific details of the assets register in which each item of office equipment and each facility or service is listed.

  (7) How often are stocktakes on `personal issue' items conducted and what follow-up action has been initiated for items not located, or damaged.

  (8) What controls are placed on `personal issue' items to ensure that they are not used for personal use or in any other fraudulent manner.

  (9) What are the above details with regard to the purchase of any office equipment, facilities or services which are not normally available to non-ministerial electorate staff under Department of Administrative Services guidelines, including: (a) mobile telephones, laptop computers and pagers; (b) airline lounge memberships; (c) telephone services, photocopiers, personal computers and accompanying hardware and software, facsimile machines, dictaphones (or similar recording devices), television sets, video recorders, cassette radios and document shredders installed in the Minister's offices and/or at the home addresses of any person in the categories listed above; (d) Australian Government credit cards, Cabcharge cards, Telecom credit cards, or other credit cards and accounts, and newspapers, periodicals; and (e) other published material.

  (10) In each case where electorate staff, as opposed to ministerial staff, are provided with any of the above items, what are the reasons for the provision of those items by the department.

  (11) Will the Minister provide an undertaking that any office equipment, facilities or services that are currently provided under such arrangements will: (a) not be used for election and campaign purposes from the date the election is called; and (b) be promptly returned to the appropriate department if the Australian Labor Party is not returned to Government in the Federal election.


Senator Button —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) The Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce provides my Office with any office equipment, facilities and services required in addition to those provided by the Department of Administrative Services. These include:

  stores and consumables;

  printing;

  non standard office requisites;

  press releases/clippings;

  office machine purchases and maintenance;

  furniture;

  library supplies;

  postage;

  storage;

  freight;

  PABX (acquisition, maintenance and rent);

  semi official telephones; and

  official hospitality.

  (2)-(5) To obtain the information sought would involve the department in considerable research and I am not prepared to authorise the time and resources entailed in collecting the information.

  (6) All items to the value of $450 or more and other items deemed to be portable and attractive are included in the department's Assets Register.

  (7) A stocktake of all assets recorded on the register is undertaken annually unless otherwise approved by the Secretary of the Department.

  Any discrepancies revealed at stocktake are referred to the responsible area (in this case my office) for investigation.

  The department recovers from staff, upon cessation of employment, any items that may have been on personal issue.

  (8) These items are issued for official use only and users are required to adhere to any relevant directions and guidelines.

  (9) To obtain the information sought would involve the department in considerable research and I am not prepared to authorise the time and resources entailed in collecting the information.

  (10) Electorate staff are not provided with any office equipment, facilities or services which are not normally available under Department of Administrative Services guidelines.

  (11) (a) Facilities provided in Minister's offices by Departments continue to be available for use during an election period, as, in general, do facilities provided by the Department of Administrative Services in the offices of Ministers, Opposition officeholders and other Members and Senators. Should any request for what might be seen as inappropriate support be received from my office during an election period, it would be discussed by senior officers, if necessary with me or my staff, in accordance with the Guidelines on Official Conduct of Public Servants.

  (b) Items on issue will be returned to the relevant department should these no longer be required by this Office for official use by staff.