National

Department of Immigration and Border Protection puts out tender for 'split-campus'

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has backed away from a plan to consolidate 5500 of its ACT staff in one location as it moves toward a new "split-campus" option.

The new option still allows secretary Mike Pezzullo to look at locations, such as Canberra Airport, to place 1500 staff now based in Civic. 

His willingness to have two campuses in Belconnen may be unlikely, however, after an arduous year in which his department's plans to consolidate all employees and seriously consider shifting out of Belconnen were strangled.

ACT senator Zed Seselja said a new tender will call for contractors to price the work on a split-campus department to house the public servants. 

The new procurement process will guarantee Belconnen retains the same number of Immigration staff currently based in the town centre; about 4000 workers.

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Last year it was an option for the department to move out of Belconnen so its ACT staff could be located in the one precinct until the idea was put on ice and the tender eventually torn up when the Finance Department said local impacts should be considered

Senator Seselja said the local impact assessment done by Immigration and Finance prompted the decision not to decrease the number of staff located in Belconnen.

"This gives peace of mind to businesses in the Belconnen town centre, employees and local residents," Senator Seselja said. 

"The department's presence has played an important role in sustaining local businesses.

"I'm proud our government is the first to take into consideration the local impacts on Canberra and its town centres when making these decisions."

Fraser MP and shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh, whose electorate covers the northern parts of the ACT, said it was encouraging to see the government "finally" relenting on its "daft plan".

"Staff at Immigration, local businesses and members of the community fought hard for this result," Dr Leigh said.

"Now that the government has realised ripping away public service jobs is bad for local communities, perhaps they'll also reverse some of their 17,700 job cuts."

About 1500 Immigration employees work in five buildings totalling 35,000 square metres in Civic.

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