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Wednesday, 29 May 1996
Page: 1368

(Question No. 30)

Senator Chris Evans asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 2 May 1996:

With reference to Asset Services flying a painter to the Cocos Islands in March 1996 to return on 6 April 1996, then recently dismissing 3 painters on the Island:

(1) Why was local labour not used on this occasion.

(2) What was the cost of flying the employee to the Cocos Islands, and what was his or her total remuneration.

(3) What was the cost differential between that and employing a local person.

(4) Does Asset Services intend to use local labour in the future.

Senator Short —The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Asset Services, acting in the capacity of a contractor to the Department of Primary Industries, was required by the customer to provide the services of a trade-qualified painter to ensure that industry standards were maintained. Painters on Cocos Island are not formally trade-qualified and would be classified as "brush-hands" within the painting industry. The provision of a mainland tradesperson not only ensured that the industry standard was maintained but also provided training to local workers who were also employed on the project under the supervision of this tradesperson.

(2) The return air fare to Cocos Island was $899.00 and the total cost of supplying the tradesperson, inclusive of this cost, was included in the price contracted to the customer.

(3) The actual cost differential is unable to be quantified since, as detailed above, there are no local employees with equivalent trade qualifications and also because of the variance in oncosts allocated to local (Cocos Island) employees and mainland employees. The base loaded wage of the tradesperson was however markedly lower than that charged for Island workers and this, allied to the reduced supervision necessary on the project and productivity gains made would together ensure that any overall differential in costs would be minimal.

(4) Yes. Asset Services have employed many of the local people in previous years and still have 22 local staff employed on a continuing employee basis.