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Push to keep Department of Social Services in Tuggeranong

Tuggeranong Office Park in Greenway.

Tuggeranong Office Park in Greenway.

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.

The Tuggeranong Office Park building in 2011, when the Department of Social Services was the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

The Tuggeranong Office Park building in 2011, when the Department of Social Services was the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. Photo: Gary Schafer

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”.

22 comments

  • Why does Canberra constantly want to knock down buildings and houses when they are 30 years old??? Let DSS move to Woden (or better still get taken over by DHS) and get ACT government takeover the tuggeranong building it could handle both its local council meetings as well as most depts and help ease civic congestion.

    Commenter
    stoney
    Date and time
    March 26, 2014, 1:02PM
    • Tell us again about that budget emergency?

      Commenter
      Mike
      Date and time
      March 26, 2014, 1:14PM
      • As we are now seeing 4th generation public servants, it's time for a diaspora - move most of the Federal departments out of Canberra completely - Canberra would become a liveable city again, we may even see our local "government" shrink, we'd certainly get rid of the nepotism that is currently rampant in all departments, and it would do the population distribution a world of good, as well as spreading the common wealth around more. Nah - just a pipe dream - too many vested interests....

        Commenter
        Cobbcres
        Location
        ACT
        Date and time
        March 26, 2014, 1:20PM
        • Ah, the good old days eh Cobbcres; when you knew your local butcher and everyone was white.

          What's the government ever done for Canberra! The aqueducts?

          Commenter
          Stir the pot
          Date and time
          March 26, 2014, 2:22PM
        • Totally agree. If we had the original NBN most of the public service could be anywhere and see more of the people they work with than they do in Canberra. IT for starters. The pollies could locate joint offices in regions where they want to win seats. Western Sydney, Geelong. Might provide in house child care like the pollies have instead of paying new mums to stay at home so long they become redundant.

          (Impossible for new mums to work from home, tried it once.)

          Commenter
          Jenny
          Location
          2620
          Date and time
          March 26, 2014, 4:28PM
        • @jenny

          totally agree but it does not require an NBN existing ISDN links used by gov't, private enterprise, NSA etc can provide NBN like speeds.

          Australia is like a pyramid scheme gov'ts want big cities = big rates/stamp duty.

          A diasporia is needed.

          Commenter
          stoney
          Date and time
          March 27, 2014, 8:14AM
      • Why knock it down - it has had $10s of millions put into it. Really why would you not just more to an area that had office space - Woden or Civic.

        Commenter
        Tom
        Date and time
        March 26, 2014, 1:20PM
        • So Tuggeranong Office Park “is now old and inefficient". Get real Zed! It's younger than Parliament House and many other buildings occupied by the Feds!

          Commenter
          Aghast
          Date and time
          March 26, 2014, 1:39PM
          • Oh....I can just hear it.......I'm not commuting ALL the way to Civic......

            And before the accusation of being a Canberra Basher is laid - I lived there for 7 years and was constantly amazed how the grizzles would come up if people's jobs were moved ALL the way from Civic to Belconnen town centre, or ALL the way down to Woden.

            And yes - Budget Crisis - Budget Crisis......I may have posted that 200 or more times in the last few months......where is it?

            Commenter
            Dismayed
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            March 26, 2014, 1:54PM
            • Zed Seselja can lobby Kevin Andrews as long and as hard as he likes. But the knocking down of buildings in Canberra, particularly on the ego-driven whims of politicians, does not have a good history.
              So best play it safe and leave it alone, particularly after the shocking precedent of the demolition of the fine all-too-well-built Royal Canberra Hospital and its replacement with that post-modernist architectural farce and monstrosity, the National Museum of Australia, down there on the Acton Peninsula.
              Zed could well stand for zero.

              Commenter
              Ian MacDougall
              Location
              ACT
              Date and time
              March 26, 2014, 1:59PM

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