Page 2081 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 21 June 2005

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Totalcare Industries

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services. The Chief Minister made the following pledge to Totalcare workers on 9 December 2003:

None of the 346 Totalcare employees will lose their jobs or entitlements.

Minister, will any of these workers be made redundant as part of the loss of 80 jobs resulting from the restructuring of your department? If so, how many of these positions will be made redundant?

MR HARGREAVES: The Department of Urban Services is in the throes of a total restructure to change a silo effect. When the functions that now make up urban services came across to the ACT in 1989 from instrumentalities such as the Department of Housing and Construction, public works and the Department of the Interior they brought across a public service mentality, a silo mentality. Over the years there emerged another insidious disease of administration called the purchaser/provider split. That resulted in the Department of Urban Services being overadministered and overmanaged.

There are elements within the Department of Urban Services, as exists in other departments, where there is a greater proportion of management to service delivery, which is unacceptable in modern day organisation theory. The Department of Urban Services has taken a bit of a lead in this sense by totally restructuring, taking and putting the emphasis on service delivery, the sharp end. I have been criticised a number of times in this place because people have been dissatisfied with the level of services, whether they are talking about the removal of dead trees, potholes or other issues. So this restructure will take effect.

As has been indicated both in the estimates process and through the budget process, there will be considerable saving achieved through this administrative reshuffle. There will be a certain number of positions saved as a consequence. We need to understand that they will be full-time equivalents. This is not necessarily talking about people; this is talking about full-time equivalents, remembering that the mix is of permanent, part time, casual and body hire staff which this government inherited when it came to office. The figure indicated in the estimates period and through the budget process was a reduction from 1,086 to 1,006.

It has been put on the record before that the number of positions that will be reduced within the Department of Urban Services is 80. I have said that in estimates, I have said it in the public arena and I have said it I do not know how many times directly to staff of the Department of Urban Services. Indeed, it has been my practice since becoming the minister to go and see as many people within the department as I possibly can. I reckon I am up around 75 per cent.

Mr Speaker, it was remarked to me on more than one occasion that it was the first time that a minister had actually had conversations with people at the coalface. What I got out of those conversations was confidence in what we were doing. I said then, and I will say it again, that there will be no involuntary redundancies, none.

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