Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 March 2017) . . Page.. 1237 ..
Australian public service—impact of relocations
MS ORR: My question is to the Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations. Minister, how will Canberra workers’ health and wellbeing be affected by the commonwealth government’s plans to move agencies out of Canberra?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her question and for her interest in this matter. Of course, we are all aware of the forced relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. This is having a significant impact on the authority’s staff and on other staff across the federal public service and across the ACT community.
Mr Wall: Point of order, Madam Speaker.
MADAM SPEAKER: Point of order, Mr Wall.
Mr Wall: Madam Speaker, the minister for industrial relations is not responsible for the health and wellbeing of commonwealth public servants, to which the question actually specifically related.
MADAM SPEAKER: As Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations, she has a minute and 20 seconds to respond to the question, but I think she is talking broadly in terms of the workforce within Canberra.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: We have all heard the stories about staff members who chose to relocate to Armidale being forced to work at McDonalds in order to access the free wi-fi because they do not have suitable accommodation. In light of that story and some other stories I have heard, I have serious concerns about the work health and safety measures that are in place for those staff who have relocated and the wellbeing of others who are facing the pressure to move.
Of course, we know that Canberra public servants are now anxiously waiting to find out which agency will be next to be arbitrarily uprooted and relocated. This uncertainty and anxiety have had a serious negative effect on staff health and wellbeing.
Meanwhile, those who are left in the APVMA are being asked to do more with less as some of their colleagues leave for other opportunities, which is having a significant impact on their health and safety as well.
MS ORR: Minister, what sorts of effects would these relocations have on the health and wellbeing of the families of the staff impacted?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her supplementary question. These relocations will place considerable stress and strain on the partners and families of those staff who are impacted, partners who are faced with having to leave their own jobs—