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Tuesday, 17 August 1993
Page: 124

(Question No. 234)

Senator MacGibbon asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 20 May 1993:

  With reference to the increase in the number of Department of Social Security (DSS) offices in Queensland over the past few years:

  (1) What are the grounds for opening new offices.

  (2) What were the costs for setting up each new office in Queensland for the past 4 years, including fixtures, office equipment and public announcements concerning the new service.

  (3) How many premises were in rented property and how many were in buildings built or owned by the Commonwealth.

  (4) What costs in transferring and training new staff were incurred as a result of opening these new offices in Queensland.

  (5) How many additional staff now work for the DSS across Australia compared with the years prior to July 1989.

  (6) How many more people were employed by the DSS to operate these new premises over the past 4 years.

Senator Richardson —The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) New offices are opened to improve service delivery to clients in newly developing and previously unserviced locations. Factors taken into account are:-

  (a) existing and projected client numbers;

  (b) the availability and cost of suitable office accommodation in the proposed locality;

  (c) infrastructure requirements such as access to public transport links, banks, and other community services; and

  (d) wherever possible, co-location with other Government services, such as offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service.

  (2) The costs for setting up each new office in Queensland for the past 4 years, including fixtures, office equipment and public announcements concerning the new service, were:-

Office Cost


Beenleigh RO 443,950

Charleville DSSO 43,373

Ingham DSSO 49,850

Caloundra DSSO 119,873

Caboolture DSSO 545,373

Mermaid Beach DSSO 218,850

Strathpine RO 48,073

Innisfail DSSO 37,690

Mareeba DSSO 188,047

Nerang RO 486,850

Goondiwindi DSSO 85,373

Atherton DSSO 145,957

Capalaba DSSO 239,250

Emerald DSSO 82,916

Normanton DSSO 31,435

Hervey Bay RO 166,627

Biloela DSSO 72,497

Kawana Waters DSSO 187,173

Bowen DSSO 99,975

Noosa DSSO 181,902

West Bundaberg DSSO 171,673

  (3) All 21 new offices opened in Queensland since 1 January 1989 are housed in premises leased from the private sector.

  (4) In most instances, the transfer of staff to new offices in Queensland in the period concerned was cost neutral, due to the close proximity of the new offices to the offices from which staff were relocated. However, transfer costs amounting to $99,943 were incurred in total in respect of new offices opened in remote localities in Queensland in the period.

  Training costs incurred in establishing the new offices were minimised by the transfer of experienced staff from one office to another. Where this was not possible, additional training costs of $97,668 were incurred.

  (5) Total staffing in DSS has changed from the 1988-89 figure of 17,051 as follows:

  1989-90: reduction of 501 or 2.9%

  1990-91: increase of 1,385 or 8.4%

  1991-92: increase of 1,135 or 6.3%

  1992-93: increase of 1,347 or 7.1%

The total increase in staffing over this period was 3,366 or 19.7%, to the present total of 20,417 staff.

  (6) An additional 47.32 staff were employed to operate the new offices opened in Queensland in the period.

  Additional staff have been employed in both new and existing offices according to changes in client populations.