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Office perks: Customs' $9K coffee machine spend

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service bought two coffee machines during the 2011-12 financial year worth a total of $9000.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service bought two coffee machines during the 2011-12 financial year worth a total of $9000. Photo: Eddie Jim

Highly trained sniffer dogs at Australian Customs will be familiar with the strong aroma of coffee after two expensive coffee machines have been provided for their masters.

Written answers to questions from a recent Senate estimates hearing have revealed the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service bought two coffee machines during the 2011-12 financial year for the National Detector Dog Program Facility.

The machines cost $4,500 each, sparking outrage from Liberal senator Gary Humphries who had made the initial inquiry.

“I'm very concerned that while some agencies are shedding jobs other agencies are buying coffee machines to the tune of $4,500 a piece,” Senator Humphries said.

“Labor's ham fisted approach to reducing the cost of government isn't providing any certainty to the public service.

“It doesn't send a clear signal to public servants who don't know how this government is thinking.”

The Customs dog facility is located in rural Victoria in a location not close to cafes or coffee shops.

One machine is for staff use and the other is in a conference room.

In its written response to Senator Humphries' questions, Customs stated the NDDPF has between 60 and 80 staff or visitors on site on a daily basis, making an average 180 to 240 cups of coffee.

“The coffee machines were purchased as part of the initial fit-out costs associated with the construction of the NDDPF and as such were paid from capital costs associated with the fit-out,” the answer read.

There was no mention of whether the dogs were trained to filter out the smell of coffee in their detecting duties; or whether the constant wafting of caffeine smells through the facility was affecting the canines' sleeping routines.

The Customs answers come just months after it was revealed taxpayers had spooned out more than $100,000 over three years to satisfy coffee cravings inside the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism.

That amount was poured into nine coffee machines costing $7,025 each, $2,000 a year on maintenance and almost $37,000 buying the coffee for the machines.

But Customs has assured that all operating costs associated with employee use of its staff coffee machine in the dog program facility are paid by staff through a monthly contribution for coffee supplies.

Dog biscuits not included.

10 comments so far

  • Wow, and I am still amazed that CSIRO staff could be upset that they are no longer being provided with free lollies! To say that this is all a ridiculous use of public money is an understatement. I have worked in numerous public service offices, some which provided coffee and some which provided only hot water for BYO coffee/tea -- and all were within close proximity to coffee shops. Only one public service office had a good coffee machine (for staff on the entire floor), and it would have been of the $1400 variety.

    Commenter
    Karina
    Location
    Belconnen
    Date and time
    March 18, 2013, 1:37PM
    • Decent coffee should be a fundamental to looking after your staff. A business case would probably reveal a $ saving as fewer staff would feel the need to walk down the street to get a coffee and $9000 for 2 fully automatic machines to despence hundreds of coffees, doesn't sound expensive

      Commenter
      Ray
      Date and time
      March 18, 2013, 1:39PM
      • Come on this can't be right, can it, oh yeh thats right, its Gillards mob.

        Commenter
        MIKE the HAMMER
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        March 18, 2013, 1:43PM
        • The next thing workers there will be suing the Government over their caffine addiction or because of injuries suffered when operating the machine or perhaps taxpayers will be coughing up for Baristas as well!

          Commenter
          Michelle
          Location
          Melbourne
          Date and time
          March 18, 2013, 1:47PM
          • It's completely outragous... until you read that it's for meetings with external visitors in a rual setting (where I'm sure they're saving lots on rent, being further away from the city).

            So it's pretty understandable, and Gary Humphries seems to be trying to make something out of nothing. So much for the good liberal guy who will be a voice for th public service, I guess.

            Commenter
            Hospes
            Date and time
            March 18, 2013, 2:42PM
            • "The Customs dog facility is located in rural Victoria in a location not close to cafes or coffee shops... But Customs has assured that all operating costs associated with employee use of its staff coffee machine in the dog program facility are paid by staff through a monthly contribution for coffee supplies."

              So why is this a story then? Oh that's right, because nothing riles up morons more than a story about "over-paid, under-worked, mooching off the public teat Government employees".

              Commenter
              That Guy
              Location
              Canberra
              Date and time
              March 18, 2013, 3:06PM
              • Ah Chris Johnson you have bean at it again with your puns. Will you get roasted over this story or will you get a pour response? We may have to wait till latte to see!

                Commenter
                Bronmc2
                Date and time
                March 18, 2013, 5:56PM
                • What a joke of an article!

                  Guess what, the Nespresso commercial model costs $5,688 per year (including the first 600 coffees/month).

                  You don't have to look to rural Victoria to find these - ANU has at least 3 or 4 itself, and they're super common in offices across Canberra.

                  Good quality coffee is an essential ingredient to a productive workplace, and instant/plunger coffee just doesn't cut it.

                  Commenter
                  Fraser
                  Location
                  Canberra
                  Date and time
                  March 19, 2013, 6:33AM
                  • No story at all! Oh - except for the desperate and seemingly endless attempts to smear the Gillard government over any imagined or real infraction of the 'rules' that the paper has decided the PM has to play by. It is a wonder that several un-named labor backbenchers weren't quoted as saying that this is likely to lead to the immediate destruction of the entire state of Australia as well as causing more boats to arrive and further empower 'union bosses'.

                    Commenter
                    James Moylan
                    Location
                    Lismore
                    Date and time
                    March 19, 2013, 8:06AM
                    • I think its disgusting that muffins and danishes aren't on offer as well.

                      There is no point having coffee without a side pastry or cake. It is the obligation for the employer to provides these necessities as well.

                      Commenter
                      Thomas
                      Location
                      Canberra
                      Date and time
                      March 19, 2013, 8:55AM

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