Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2011 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 16 February 2011) . . Page.. 168 ..
We have weighed them up. We have costed them and we have done that against a number of criteria, a significant and important one being issues around environmental sustainability and energy rating, a significant issue being around the quality of accommodation and a belief within the ACT government that, just as the commonwealth government has taken a decision that all commonwealth staff employed the ACT will be housed in A-grade accommodation meeting certain environmental standards, our staff deserve the same consideration.
The commonwealth has now essentially achieved its goal; the ACT government has not. In fact, I think it is fair to say—I have not been updated on this for some time—that the majority of ACT public servants work in C-grade accommodation. The vast majority of commonwealth public servants work in A-grade accommodation. We believe as an employer that we have certain responsibilities that we are keen to meet: to the environment, to our staff and to issues around efficiency. We have taken detailed advice on the efficiencies, the synergy, the single-purpose that can be achieved by having a majority of administrative staff contained in a single building.
There are quantifiable efficiencies and savings to be made in having, to the greatest extent possible, one’s workforce co-located. They are quantifiable and they are significant. So, yes, we have taken into account a whole range of issues. We are obviously aware of the level of the vacancy rate within the private sector, the majority of which is C and D-grade accommodation, most of which is old, most of which the owners have not chosen to upgrade. They have taken commercial decisions.
Some of their accommodation—their C and D-grade accommodation—for a start the government is not interested in using to house our employees into the future. The majority of vacant accommodation, it is interesting, is C and D-class accommodation. We are not interested in it. It does not meet appropriate environmental standards. It is not, we believe, appropriate in this town in relation to the competition between the commonwealth and the ACT government to attract the highest quality public servants to our employ, when we are already challenged in relation to wages and salary, that we offer them C-grade accommodation when the commonwealth is now insisting that all its staff will be housed in A-grade accommodation.
These are the range of issues that we have considered. In the context of the vacancy rates, the question has to be posed to the owners of those buildings, particularly those D-grade buildings: what steps have they taken through their ownership to upgrade those buildings? What investment decisions have they made in relation to the upgrade, the reuse and continued use of their buildings and to what extent should the government be expected to bail them out? (Time expired.)
MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, a supplementary question?
MS LE COUTEUR: Chief Minister, you indicated you had taken into account the office vacancy rate, but what you did not discuss was whether you had taken into account the possibility of refurbishing the existing vacant office—
MR SPEAKER: Ms Le Couteur, preamble.