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Perks of office: public service boss's $9000 office makeover

Public Commissioner John Lloyd spent nearly $9000 of taxpayers' money last year on a makeover for his Canberra office as nearly 100,000 rank-and-file public servants spent their third year without a pay rise.

The office do-up for Mr Lloyd, who earns a salary package of nearly $680,000, included a $995 Samsung TV, answers to Parliamentary questions-on-notice reveal.

The Public Service Commissioner also shelled out nearly $24,000 of taxpayers' money for an induction event for public service new recruits which included an appearance fee of nearly $12000 for a "thought leader" and stand-up comedian.

In March Mr Lloyd, who says the public service must show spending restraint, splashed out more than $5700, plus nearly $400 for photographs, for a $220-a-head dinner at Old Parliament House in Canberra for a group of senior bureaucrats, most of whom had been awarded the Public Service Medal.

Among the diners were senior managers from the Department of Human Services, the department behind Centrelink's recent robo-debt debacle which has seen struggling citizens pursued by debt collectors over bogus debts.

Public service minister Michaelia Cash was also in attendance with two of her staffers.

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But Mr Lloyd defended the spending, saying his office furniture had not been replaced in nine years, that "thought leader" Dan Gregory was more than a stand-up comic and that the public service medal was entirely appropriate and in keeping with Australian Public Service traditions. 

In October, Fairfax revealed the commission had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars hosting highly paid elite Commonwealth bureaucrats at luxury overnight get-togethers at exclusive resorts and golf clubs around Canberra and the NSW Southern Highlands

Is your department living within its means? Send your tips to ps@canberratimes.com.au

Now, answers to an answer to questions on notice from Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk reveal Mr Lloyd's office makeover consisted of new lounges, coffee tables, a paint job and a brand new Samsung TV for the commissioner's office.

The commissioner's annual function for public service graduate recruits at Parliament House in September cost $12,750 in catering and another $11,374 for Mr Gregory to facilitate a panel discussion.

A spokesperson for the commission said the office had not had a refresh in nine years.

"The APSC executive suite and reception area was refreshed in February 2016," she said.

"Furniture was replaced in the Executive Assistant and waiting areas, the area was repainted and the television in the Commissioner's office was replaced." 

She also said that Mr Gregory was not just a stand-up comedian.

"Dan Gregory was engaged to facilitate one of four graduate events in 2016," the spokesperson said.

"It is inaccurate to characterise Mr Gregory merely as a stand-up comic.

"Mr Gregory has significant experience relevant to the focus of the event, including 25 years in behavioral research and strategy, sales and marketing development and leadership mentoring.

"He has worked with a variety of clients including News Corp and the United Nations."

 The commissioner's spokesperson also defended the Old Parliament House function.

"The Public Service Medal recognises outstanding service by employees of the Australian Government and state, territory and local government employees," she said. 

"There is a long tradition in Commonwealth nations of recognising employees for outstanding public service.

"It is appropriate that their outstanding service be recognised by the Government in a function such as this. 

"The dinner included public service recipients of other Australian honours."

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