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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2273

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - Senator Carrickraised the question of properties being unoccupied and I thought it appropriate that Senator McLaren should read that section from the AuditorGeneral's report. I would have assumed that Senator Carrick would have read it if he really desired to put a fair argument to the Senate, but that is the qualifying point. There is some additional information which I am sure Senator Carrick would be extremely pleased to hear. This relates to some general reasons for increases in rents between June 1972 and June 1974.

The average rental per square metre has increased from $42.14 in June 1972 to $45.53 in June 1973, an increase of 8 per cent, and to $49.04 in June 1974, an increase of 18 per cent on the June 1972 figure. This increase in the rental rate cost an estimated $1.7m in 1972-73 and $2. lm 1 973-74, making a total of $3.8m for the 2 financial years. During the same period the amount of space leased has increased by 95,400 square metres from 554,600 square metres in June 1972 to 650,000 square metres in June 1 973, an increase of 1 7 per cent. It increased by a further 132,000 square metres to 782,000 square metres in June 1974, an increase of 41 per cent, which is the figure to which I think Senator Carrick referred. This increase in area cost an estimated $4.5m in 1972-73 and an estimated $6. 7m in 1973-74.

Ofthe increase of 95,400 square metres in the space leased in 1972-73, approximately 55 per cent is estimated as being attributable to the need to provide more suitable accommodation, while the balance is attributable to increases in staff numbers. Of the increase of 132,000 square metres in space leased in 1973-74, approximately 40 per cent is estimated as being attributable to the need to provide more suitable office accommodation, while the balance of 60 per cent is attributable to increase in staff numbers.

Senator Carrickraised the question of the apparent conflict of the comments made in the

Auditor-General's report by referring to unoccupied properties presently owned by the Government. Insofar as unoccupied Government owned properties are concerned, there are 7 properties involved. Four of them are properties which were acquired but not occupied and the other three are government-owned properties which have been vacated but not re-occupied. All 4 properties included in the first category were purchased at the request of the PostmasterGeneral's Department. They have been available to that Department since acquisition and arrangements for their occupation and use have been a matter for it. In the case of the other 3 properties mentioned, one is to be redeveloped for the Australian Archives Office and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, another is a migrant hostel and is being held for migrant accommodation purposes, and the third is being retained, in accordance with Government policy, rather than being sold.

In respect of delays in occupying leased premises, there are 8 leases involved. In 6 cases the Postmaster-General's Department was the client department while the Department of Defence and the Attorney-General's Department were the client departments in the remaining 2 cases. The delays in occupancy in each case are understood to have resulted from delays in fitting the premises. Until recently the fitting out of leased premises has been the responsibility of the client department and the Department of Housing and Construction. Reasons for delays in occupancy are therefore a matter for those departments. It might be noted that under new procedures the Department of Services and Property and not the client department is responsible for arranging the fitting out of leased premises with the Department of Housing and Construction. These procedures have been introduced so that client departments may occupy leased premises as soon as possible after the date of commencement of the lease.

Proposed expenditures- Department of Services and Property, $83,310,000, Department of the Special Minister of State, $66,296,000, and Department of the Capital Territory, $30,639,000-passed

The CHAIRMAN - That completes Group B. We will move to Group C. The Minister in charge is Senator Douglas McClelland.

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