Push to keep Department of Social Services in Tuggeranong

The federal government should knock down and rebuild the existing Department of Social Services national office in Tuggeranong, says Senator Zed Seselja.

He says he has been lobbying Liberal colleague and Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews for the department, known as the DSS, to stay in Tuggeranong.

The lease at Tuggeranong Office Park is due to expire at the end of 2016.

A department spokeswoman said a two-stage procurement process for future accommodation was underway.

But Mr Seselja believes moving it to another location would have huge ramifications for the town centre.

“Tuggeranong could struggle significantly if that were to happen,” he said.


“Hopefully it (the future of the DSS) is decided before the budget – not just whether it stays in the existing building but whether it stays in Tuggeranong.

“It is now old and inefficient.

He said building a new DSS home on the existing site or elsewhere in Tuggeranong were the best options, which would also boost the local economy.

The existing campus style set-up of national office could allow workers to be moved around while a rebuild or refurbishments.

“While having no pre-disposition in terms of the solution that might be offered up by the market," the spokeswoman said.

"The department is seeking a building that is compliant with the National Construction Code and Disability Discrimination Act requirements.

“The preference remains for the future accommodation to be close to Woden or the Tuggeranong Town Centre, with good access to public transport and car parking."

Four months after giving his maiden speech in federal parliament, Mr Seselja said he had spent much of his time in federal parliament working on committees and having discussions about the public service.

Due to his status as a backbencher who lives in Canberra, Mr Seselja has been put onto at least eight committees.

These include committees on Regulations and Ordinances, Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the NBN, National Disability Insurance Scheme and national capital and external territories.

He is also on the Coalition Deregulation Committee, a member of the National Library of Australia board, and Chairs the ACT Consultative Panel for the Blackspot Program.

“Sitting days are often about juggling several committee meetings," he said.

The Abbott Government has left the future of the public service in the hands of the Commission of Audit.

So far the government is standing by the efficiency dividend – an ongoing economy drive built into departmental budgets, which is now forcing them to find savings each year. If left to continue it will end in a reduction in the size of the public service by about 14,500 staff – a plan inherited from Labor.

Mr Seselja said the efficiency dividend was a “blunt instrument” that punished efficient government departments.

“If you're an efficient agency you get pushed, if you're bloated you can probably find that (saving),” he said.

He said the Coalition should not go beyond 14,500 job cuts Labor had planned and that Canberra should not absorb more than 35 per cent to 40 per cent of reductions, which he described as a “fair share”.


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