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                    [post_content] => 

Andrew Hudson

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton used his opening address at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) Industry Summit on Monday morning (31 July 2017) to assure those in the private supply chain and their clients that the current work agenda would be maintained under the proposed Home Affairs department.

Along with the Acting Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF), Minister Dutton reiterated that the ABF would continue in its traditional ‘Customs’ role and the ABF, as part of the DIBP, would also continue its vital engagement with industry and development of trade facilitation measures to assist in the legitimate trade in goods and movement in people.

At the time of the announcement of the creation of the new Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the focus of the commentary was on national and border security issues with no comment on the traditional ‘Customs’ role of the ABF or its ongoing engagement with industry and the facilitation of international trade at the border.

Naturally, there were some concerns that the failure to address these important roles could mean that the importance of those roles was being downgraded and that momentum on various initiatives here and overseas could be lost with an increased focus on security and intervention in trade.

Both speakers made the point that the involvement of the ABF with the DHA would allow the ABF to have access to additional information at an earlier stage than is presently the case, which would actually enhance the ability of the ABF to carry out its roles. These outcomes were all consistent with the theme of the industry summit being “Border Innovation: strengthening our nation’s economy, security and society.”

In terms of the work of the DIBP and the ABF in the engagement with industry in relation to the movement of goods, there was reference to recent achievements and future commitments with such initiatives as:
  • The creation of a ‘single window’ for trade such as in Singapore and New Zealand.
  • The expansion of the Australian Trusted Trader Program (ATTP).
  • The recent completion of four Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with other customs services for those in the ATTP.
  • The promise of more MRA with customs services in other trading partners.
  • The development and implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) to improve the use of those current and future FTAs by the adoption of robust Rules of Origin, enhanced border clearance facilitation.
  • The increased use of more advance technology and reporting systems.
There were similar references to commitments in the migration space as relating to the movement of persons. The comments provide a degree of assurance to industry that the current work agenda would be maintained and developed and that the engagement with industry remained a priority. While the reference to the achievements and initiative represents only a reiteration of those developments currently known to industry, their clear support from the Federal Government filled in a gap in the story that arose with the announcements relating to the DHA. Industry looks forward to continued engagement on these projects and its ongoing collaborative work with government, whether the DIBP, the ABF or other agencies that have a role at the border. Andrew Hudson is Partner with Rigby Cooke Lawyers’ Litigation Team, specialising in all areas of trade including international trade conventions, dispute resolution and arbitration, trade financing options, commodity and freight contracts as well as dealing with regulation of the movement of goods at the border by all Government agencies. He is also a member of many of the consultative bodies established by Government in the trade space, including the National Committee on Trade Facilitation convened by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the International Trade Remedies Forum convened by the Anti - Dumping Commission (ADC) as well as associated sub-committees. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Export Council of Australia (ECA) and the Food and Beverage Importers Association (FBIA) and works closely with other industry associations representing those in the supply chain. [post_title] => When all things change, Customs stays the same [post_excerpt] => Minister Dutton has assured those in the supply chain that the current work agenda would be maintained under the Home Affairs department. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => things-change-customs-stays [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-02 14:36:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-02 04:36:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27743 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 26966 [post_author] => 658 [post_date] => 2017-04-21 11:14:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-04-21 01:14:39 [post_content] =>

By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier   Hoteliers and the wider hospitality industry are on edge, as they await more details in regards to the Federal Government’s 457 visa replacement. Yesterday (Tuesday), Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the scrapping of the 457 visa program, stating: “We are ensuring that Australian jobs and Australian values are first, placed first. During the press conference, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, announced that 457 visa will be replaced with two alternate visas, that do not foster as much agency for permanent residency. “What we propose is that under the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa short-term stream there will be a two-year visa, with the options of two-years, but there would not be permanent residency outcomes at the end of that. “In relation to the medium-term stream, which as the Prime Minister pointed out, is targeted at higher skills, a much shorter skills list, that will be for a period of four years, can be applied for onshore or offshore, and it's a significant tightening of the way in which that programme operates. According to the Department of Immigration, in 2014 cooks represented the third-largest usage of the 457 visa, after software/application programmers and general practitioners and residential medical officers. The AHA has called on the Government to ensure that the needs of the hospitality industry are met within the new visa program. “The hospitality industry is growing at unprecedented rates at the present and the demand for skilled labour is at all-time highs with this complete transformation of Australia’s hotel industry,” said AHA CEO, Stephen Ferguson. Indeed, the Government’s own Australian Tourism Labour Force Report estimated that the tourism and hospitality sector will require an additional 123,000 workers by 2020, including 60,000 skilled positions. “Australia’s hospitality sector has responded with a wide range of training and career development programs, but with such a rapid increase in tourism it is impossible to meet the demand for skilled labour in the short-term through local channels, especially in regional and remote Australia.” With the exact details of the new Temporary Short- and Medium-Term Visa programs, yet to be revealed, most hoteliers are withholding judgment at this stage, but a few were wary of the additional strain the scrapping of the 457 visa would place on finding kitchen staff. “I am still waiting to hear the finer detail about the announcement from Turnbull so as to fully understand the implications of this for the hospitality sector. But on face value, it does not seem to be founded in a sound consideration of the facts attributable to the current skills shortages being experienced in the hospitality sector,” opined Christian Denny, licensee of Hotel Harry and The Dolphin. For Angela Gallagher, group general manager of Gallagher Hotels, the replacement of the 457 visa program will create another hurdle in finding quality staff. Read more here. This story first appeared in The Shout. 
[post_title] => Hospitality industry reacts to 457 visa scrapping [post_excerpt] => Chefs third most sought after under visa program. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hospitaliy-industry-reacts-457-visa-scrapping [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-04-21 11:14:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-04-21 01:14:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=26966 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 23031 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2016-02-11 21:01:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2016-02-11 10:01:14 [post_content] => Pills Vitamins Pile Bowl April 23, 2012 2 A revived Coalition plan to outsource archaic in-house payments processing technology at Medicare – and potentially claims processing too – has exploded during heated Senate Estimates hearings after the Department of Health admitted it has been working on a stealth payments outsourcing project now in the market. Both the Health Department and its Minister Sussan Ley this week confirmed the active scoping of a new, commercially provided payments facility for Medicare, a move that had initially been put to the market in 2014 but then appeared to stall. Specifics surrounding exactly what kind of payments service or outsourced infrastructure Health is shopping for remain somewhat unclear; but what is now known is that a Request for Quotation was quietly issued to eight consultancies including KPMG, Boston Consulting Group, PWC, Ernst & Young and McKinsey. The quotes are due on Friday 12th February and a decision is expected by the end of the same month. However the new deal appears to be separate to the initial request for Expressions of Interest (EoI) for commercial services sent out by former Health Minister Peter Dutton. It is understood that a number of respondents to the initial EoI have been taken by surprise by the revelations of a restricted approach to market as they are still waiting on a response or feedback from the government. The use of a ‘Request for Quotation’ mechanism also suggests that the government has settled on at least a basic set of technical specifications rather than the more open-ended EoI process. Concurrently, Health has now created a so-called digital payments taskforce headed by John Cahill, who took the reins in January and has been allocated $5 million and around 20 departmental staff to get the ball rolling. The raw political sensitivity surrounding the nascent project being linked to the idea of privatising Medicare is acute. Health Minister Sussan Ley on Tuesday raced out a statement declaring that the Turnbull government “remains committed to Medicare” and was only “investigating ways to digitise its transaction technology for payments to a more consumer-friendly and faster format”. There is understood to be considerable anger within parts of the Coalition over how the issue has been handled by Health, with one adviser saying it was not the first time a health minister had been “thrown under a bus” and that the Opposition had been handed a gift. Labor has immediately seized on the revelations as proof the Turnbull government is secretly plotting to privatise the universal public health scheme. The thrust of the Opposition’s attack centres on why Health has been keeping its digital payments efforts under wraps, going so far as to keep its approach to market out of the normally open publication stream of the Department of Finance’s AusTender system – which would have alerted potentially interested parties to the business opportunity – along with Labor and the unions. “The Government has been secretly pursuing the plan after a request in late 2014 from former Health Minister Peter Dutton,” said Shadow Human Services Minister Doug Cameron and Shadow Health Minister Catherine King. “The Turnbull Liberals’ advanced, secret plans to sell off Medicare services could jeopardise the patient data of every Australian and the jobs of 1400 staff at centres all around the country.” Offshoring health data is political and regulatory strychnine. In July 2014 the Department of Defence tore up a $33 million contract with optical provider Luxottica Retail Australia after it was revealed the company had sent claims data offshore. The risks are real. A big part of the problem for Ms Ley and the Health Department is that the initial approach to market in 2014 – based on the hardline Commission of Audit – did little to distinguish between buying-in now commoditised electronic payment services (to put money like refunds into bank accounts) and wider Medicare claims processing and assessment. The cost and cumbersome nature of Medicare’s payments and claims process have been producing headaches for its political masters, stakeholders and industry for least a decade. Under the Howard government the cost of conducting an over-the-counter refund for a non-bulk billed doctor’s visit was pegged at about $10 – a figure that often equated to as much as 30 per cent for a refund of $30 for a $50 doctor’s bill. Put more simply, in the worst cases, Medicare has been paying out as much as 30c for each dollar it refunds, whereas commercial payment services normally charge a capped flat fee per transaction plus whatever a bank might layer on top. Medicare is also no stranger to technology outsourcing. In 2012 the agency finally scrapped a 12 year deal with IBM to maintain its legacy mainframe infrastructure and transferred its systems onto the Department of Human Services’ infrastructure in an effort to consolidate the welfare system’s costly technology base. A key question surrounding the present fracas over modernising Medicare’s payments systems is why the agency and its parent Health Department now appear to be separating development efforts away from Human Services, which itself is scoping for a core payments technology overhaul estimated by former Treasurer – and inaugural Human Services Minister – Joe Hockey to cost at least $1 billion. At the end of January Human Services revealed it had recruited the National Australia Bank’s transactions and deposits chief, John Murphy to take on the recently created role of Deputy Secretary in charge of the Welfare Payments Infrastructure Transformation Services project. Given a big part of the policy intention behind Human Services portfolio was to create a more centralised customer experience for welfare recipients, logical cost and structural questions arise out of any new bifurcation. Another known concern is about Health’s sometimes chequered execution record surrounding technology, especially its management of the repeatedly delayed Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record where problems prompted a near walk out by doctors and the Australian Medical Association. In the interim, Health Minister Sussan Ley is reaching for the fire extinguisher and insisting – like several Health Ministers before her – that Medicare’s systems need to evolve and become more usable. “This is why the Department of Health is investigating ways to digitise its transaction technology for payments to a more consumer-friendly and faster format,” Ms Ley said, adding the now obligatory reference to ensuring the government is embracing “innovation and is agile and responsive to changes in the digital economy.” “This work will be undertaken with the assistance of business innovation and technology experts, to determine the best and most-up-to-date payment technologies available on the market for consumers and health and aged care service providers.” The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), which represent Medicare’s employees, isn’t having a bar of it and immediately accused the government of harbouring “secret plans to privatise Medicare, putting the highly sensitive medical and financial records of all Australians into private hands.” As the countdown for a pivotal industrial bargaining vote ticks down in Human Services, CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood applied maximum pressure. “Privatising Medicare payments would mean that when you need to lodge a claim, that personal information would be handled and processed by a private company, with the data possibly being sent overseas," Ms Flood said. “This privatisation could threaten thousands of jobs, particularly in regional Australia. It’s privatisation by the back door. It’s the beginning of the end of Medicare as we know it, opening the door to the privatisation of other public services as well.” The Health Minister responded in kind, branding the offshoring and outsourcing claims as scaremongering that demonstrated “their focus is on politics over patients.” [post_title] => Medicare outsourcing skunkworks explodes into confusion [post_excerpt] => Accusations fly as stealth project outed in Estimates. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => medicares-outsourcing-skunkworks-explodes-into-confusion [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2016-02-11 21:01:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2016-02-11 10:01:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=23031 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21996 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-11-02 18:38:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-02 07:38:00 [post_content] => Fed Ex MD11   Industrial action including a 24 hour strike at Australian airports by unionised Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) officers planned for next Monday is at risk of escalating dramatically to hit Christmas cargo shipments and mail. Already tense workplace negotiations have again deteriorated badly since Friday over moves by DIBP to hit all staff engaged in protected industrial action with stiff financial sanctions. Members and representatives of the Community and Public Sector Union within DIBP are understood to be furious over a notification by the department that it will dock full day’s pay irrespective of the actual length of any work ban. Although the move to deduct a full day’s pay for shorter work bans is legally available to departments, the response is at the upper end of the scale and could close off options for proportionally incremental responses. A major risk in hitting staff will full day penalties is that it could elicit a response in kind by unions, especially in areas where partial work bans were used to limit disruption. Immigration and Border Protection late on Friday advised that it was issuing “no work no pay” notices to all of its employees participating in protected industrial action. “The Department has advised staff that only employees who are prepared to undertake all of their duties will be paid for work on days where the work ban is in place,” DIBP said in a lengthy statement. “Employees who choose to participate in a work ban will have a full day’s pay deducted, regardless of the length of time they participate. This response action is available to the Department under the Fair Work Act.” National Secretary of the CPSU Nadine Flood immediately slammed the full day pay docking as “a new and nasty escalation of this growing dispute." "Our members concerns are with Government continuing to require cuts to take home pay, rights and conditions, not with when the Department will tell us that is the case   we already know it." Although the risk of disruptions to post and cargo processing in the lead-up to Christmas is real, just what may be hit is so far unclear. “The actions as proposed have the potential to impact cargo and mail clearance in the lead-up to Christmas when the volume of activity at the border and community expectations about prompt and efficient border management are highest,” DIBP said in its statement. Australia Post is taking the issue seriously, with a spokesperson saying it “will work closely with Border Force to understand any impacts that may affect deliveries so we can take appropriate action.” “If customers have any concerns about their mail delivery, we recommend they call the Australia Post Customer Contact Centre on 13 13 18.” The Department has also accused the CPSU of ratcheting-up industrial action ahead of a revised offer to staff that it says is coming soon. But patience is wearing thin and the CPSU set out the next round of actions in its campaign late last week. “This escalation comes at a time when the Government has only just announced changes to the bargaining policy and the Department is working quickly to prepare an improved offer to take back to negotiations for a new Enterprise Agreement (EA),” DIBP said. While the DIBP is conspicuously talking-up the threat of disruption, the CPSU so far appears disinclined to get into a public shouting match of threats outside and its core on around the preservation of conditions and take-home pay. Workplace tensions over bargaining in DIBP have remained particularly high because some former Customs officers could lose as much $8000 a year in take home pay because of agency mergers. The latest bid by DIBP management to check union influence is likely to be viewed as deliberately provocative and comes as public service bargaining talks approach crunch time. The swift escalation of the industrial row at DIBP also sits in stark contrast to a wider move by the Turnbull government to reset stalled talks by lifting the ceiling on pay rises from 1.5 per cent to 2.0 per cent and widening the definition of productivity increases beyond that of simple labour cost savings like increased working hours. A major issue for both the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and its staff is that many positions – like police and other security services   are necessarily shift based around a 24 hours-a-day roster, with a highly changeable workflow. Since the creation of the new DIBP and the importation of the high profile “Border Force” concept from the Britain, there has been a concerted push to recast its workplace culture by both the government and its chief Mike Pezzullo. Although changes to workplace conditions at the new DIBP were initially slated to come in through the machinery of government changes that created DIBP and Border Force they were subsequently rolled into the re-negotiation of a new Enterprise Agreement that is the current flashpoint. Staff have also been told that the industrial action could result in them being recalled from holidays and that previously lodged leave applications may be cancelled. Staff who don’t turn up to work during periods of protected industrial action will automatically be regarded as having walked off the job and have their pay docked. “Where an employee has not notified their supervisor of the reasons for their absence, the Department will assume that the employee is absent from duty for the purpose of taking part in PIA and will arrange for the employee's pay to be varied accordingly,” DIBP said. [post_title] => Border Protection industrial crackdown threatens Christmas cargo chaos [post_excerpt] => Fury over financial sanctions. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => border-protection-industrial-crackdown-threatens-christmas-cargo-chaos [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-11-03 11:08:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-11-03 00:08:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21996 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21970 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-10-30 10:10:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-10-29 23:10:22 [post_content] => Sydney Airport   A take-home pay cut of $8000 a year for former Customs staff instigated by the former Abbott government has provoked a national 24 hour strike across Australia’s international airports next week. The powerful Community and Public Sector Union has warned the action will hit airports from 9th November. The action comes as the union tries to jolt security agency Border Force to reverse its position on workplace changes it says duds employees. It is understood the action will hit passport checks and freight screening, however exempted national security functions will continue as normal. The revelation of more strife at Department of Immigration and Border Protection comes after CPSU gave official notification it will increase the length of legally authorised rolling strikes from 2 hours to a full day in an attempt to jolt the federal government into dumping the pay cuts. The escalating industrial row at Border Force has become a pivotal battleground for the CPSU in its wider battle over public service wages and conditions and is increasingly being regarded as major tactical blunder by former PM Tony Abbott, ex-Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz and surviving Immigration minister Peter Dutton. The highly divisive pay deal foisted on Border Force staff – which stems from the administrative merger of the Department of Immigration and former Australian Customs Service – means frontline staff at the latter stand to lose thousands of dollars a year in take-home after previously held conditions and entitlements were removed. But as the Coalition regains its popular mojo, there is understood to be growing frustration in parts of the government that the Border Force pay issue has been allowed to fester. The main irritation is that the dispute helps bolster union claims of a wider agenda to force down public sector pay remove conditions as part of a return to the supposedly junked ‘Work Choices’ industrial reforms while also generating major distraction from mainstream enterprise negotiations. The latest airport strikes follow an attempt by the Turnbull government to reach a compromise with the CPSU this month in the long running pay row after government finally lifted its pay offer – which is still largely just at or below inflation – from an unviable 1.5 per cent to 2.0 per cent over three years. That compromise has resulted in significant movement at the margins from the main public service union. The CPSU this week released results from its member survey that indicate public servants may be willing to settle for a pay increase of between 2.5 per cent and 3 per cent as long as they are able to retain key employment conditions, particularly surrounding leave and working hours. The removal of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister and his Employment Minister Senator Eric Abetz has also provided the catalyst for a negotiating reset, with substantial bad blood flushed away with political careers. The industrial situation at Border Force – where the pay cuts stem from shift in award coverage from agency mergers rather than routine enterprise bargaining – is a long way from the APS bargaining middle ground in terms of the negative impact on staff and is increasingly looking like a free kick for the CPSU. Accident prone Immigration Minister Peter Dutton remains under substantial pressure from some parts of the Coalition to neutralise the situation and remove a major tactical advantage for the CPSU and Labor generally. A major concern is that the Border Force dispute has provided the CPSU with plenty of ammunition to lay down covering fire for highly disruptive airport strikes that would otherwise be a public relations disaster. The National Secretary of the CPSU, Nadine Flood wasted no time in ramming home the message that the government’s ambitious hard line actions at Border Force could widen unless firmly checked at the gate. "We have made the decision to restart significant industrial action, given that discussions with [the] Government have not produced any meaningful move on cuts to these workers' rights, conditions and take-home pay," Ms Flood said. "Last month 91 per cent of Border Protection staff   that's more than 10,000 people   voted No to an unfair agreement that cut the take-home pay of many staff by $8,000 a year or more and stripped rights for all employees." Ms Flood said the CPSU anticipated that Border Force’s executive would “continue their expensive and heavy-handed tactic of flying managers around the country to act as strike breakers” and labelled such moves as a divisive tactic that would do nothing to achieve a resolution. The extent of the removal of conditions and take home pay losses at Border Force makes the latest 2 per cent offer from the government largely academic according to the CPSU’s chief. “[Public Service] Minister Michaelia Cash's decision to raise the pay offer cap to 2 per cent doesn't compensate for losing a raft of rights and conditions,” Ms Flood said. “Not fixing the $8,000 pay cuts Government is still pushing to slash from the take-home pay of officers working to keep our borders safe just makes their offer ridiculous.’ "I'm willing to get on a plane anywhere, any time to sit down with Government and resolve this dispute," Ms Flood said. Government News has contacted the Department if Immigration and Border Protection for comment on the strikes. [post_title] => CPSU hits Australian airports with 24-hour strikes [post_excerpt] => Industrial action escalates action over Border Force pay cut. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => cpsu-hits-australian-airports-with-24-hour-strikes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-10-30 10:10:22 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-10-29 23:10:22 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21970 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 21075 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-08-17 22:43:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-08-17 12:43:45 [post_content] => 9c3a3ad8-c261-4bf2-a95a-1cfabab28d2f-450x310   The boats may have stopped for Tony Abbott, but workplace relations with the people on the frontline of Australia’s new border security agency have sunk to a new low after the latest pay offer in a protracted industrial dispute stunned staff and unions by coming in well below that of Tax and Centrelink. Having been greeted by walk-offs over the stripping of conditions on its first day in July, senior management at the recently stood-up Australian Border Force are bracing for a sustained backlash from Community and Public Sector Union members over a deal the union says cuts up to $20,000 a year from some pay packets while increasing work hours by a week every year. Consisting of a base salary increase over three years of 1.3 per cent in the first year and then 1.05 per cent for each year after, the offer has confirmed a deeply unpopular push to retire a swag of allowances and provisions that routinely made-up the take home for many specialist former Customs and Immigration officers who are now facing a pay cut in real terms. The row between Border Force management and its staff is seen as a key test as part of a wider push by the Abbott government to tackle public sector unions and the retention of a raft of special allowances and payments in favour of a much flatter system of remuneration for public servants. The CPSU on Monday blasted the proposed deal in its strongest language to date, saying it was a “the worst offer we have ever seen” and the harshest attack yet on pay and conditions approved by the Australian Public Service Commission “in recent memory.” The union also took the unusual step of stressing to members that its bargaining team “has not agreed to this proposal” adding that “we are in the fight of our lives”. “Unlike other APS agencies the Department [of Immigration and Border Protection] has chosen not to increase its pay offer to the still measly and unacceptable 1.5 per cent per year.” “Cuts to a range of allowance[s] which will leave many employees in Border Force and the Department up to $8000 short with some employees [in] remote areas up to $20,000 behind. Allowances that have been temporarily maintained in the s24 determinations will not be carried over in management’s offer,” the CPSU said in a bulletin to members. The offer is understood to have taken many staff aback, paving the way for a fresh round of more disruptive industrial action at air and sea ports in the likely event it is voted down in a staff ballot. National Secretary of the CPSU, Nadine Flood labelled the offer as “disgraceful” and a “kick in the guts” saying it “fails to recognise the hard work and professionalism of Border Protection workers. Ms Flood took particular aim at the “stripping of allowances” Border Force personnel “get for being at sea for weeks at a time, using firearms, meeting high fitness standards, working long hours, unusual shifts and dirty and/or dangerous work.” While other departments have been seeking to negotiate enterprise agreements with at or below inflation pay rises in lieu of cutting more staff, the threat of redundancies at DIBP is less potent because of the need to maintain resourcing to ensure the Abbott government’s stated policy objective of direct maritime interdiction stays on course. In July both Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and the CPSU both denied that industrial action at Border Force had resulted in recent boat arrivals. [post_title] => Border Force faces turn back on new pay offer [post_excerpt] => CPSU slams $20,000 allowance stripping [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => border-force-faces-turn-back-on-new-pay-offer [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-08-18 11:07:02 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-08-18 01:07:02 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=21075 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 20710 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-07-22 18:52:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-07-22 08:52:06 [post_content] => Dampier_king bay   It could be about the only thing the Abbott government and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) agree on: illegal boat arrivals are not being cause by industrial action at Border Force. In a bizarre sequence of events on Wednesday, both the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton and the CPSU issued stiff denials that a vessel suspected to be carrying asylum seekers from Vietnam which appeared around 100 km off the Western Australian coast had snuck through because of staffing gaps. But the big missing piece is who has actually levelled the accusation or started the rumour that has two normally warring parties shaking their heads in unison. The prospect of union industrial action resulting in illegal boat arrivals might outwardly look like a golden opportunity for the government to lay blame on a hot button issue, but the implications are sufficiently serious for Border Force to have the idea shut down almost immediately. The first of those implications is that Border Force’s staff and management are so badly at odds with each that national security may have been compromised, a pretty bad look for the agency, its minister and the union alike. The ABC has reported that when Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was asked whether the work bans left gaps that led to the boat's arrival, he replied that "The short answer is no." The same ABC report cited Prime Minister Tony Abbott refusing to “provide any details in response to the reports, saying it is an "iron law" of his Government not to comment on operational matters.” The questions and their denials have raised the obvious issue of whether someone within the Abbott government’s usually tightly controlled management of so-called on-water affairs had gone off-piste in an attempt to make political mileage. Another distinct possibility is that a baseless allegation was thrown into the mix through online discussion groups and found a life of its own. Over at CPSU headquarters, the was union liker Peter Dutton was similarly having none of it. The CPSU said it could confirm union members in the Australian Border Force Marine Unit “are imposing a range of work bans as part of protected industrial action aimed at securing a fair enterprise agreement” but hit any idea that new boat arrivals were linked to this for six. “We emphatically reject any suggestion that the protected industrial action our members are taking has resulted in an asylum-seeker vessel being located off the Dampier coast,” CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood said in a tersely worded statement. The CPSU also notably avoided sheeting any blame for the accusation back to the Abbott government, a move that strongly suggests the two interlocutors understand each other’s position. “Staff in the Australian Border Force Marine Unit have one of the toughest jobs in the public service. They are at sea and away from their families for up to a month at a time, often in very confronting and difficult situations,” Ms Flood said. She added that “the protected industrial action underway includes a ban on a range of ‘in port’ activities such as loading/unloading stores, rubbish and equipment, pre-departure checks, routines and maintenance activities.  These actions are causing some in-port delays. “There is also a ban on members undertaking boarding or enforcement activities at sea which is primarily impacting on vessels targeting illegal foreign fishing activities.” Ms Flood stressed it was important to note that “this protected industrial action, including ‘safety of lives at sea’ and national security safeguards, has been fully negotiated and properly notified with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and approved by the Fair Work Commission.” Staff at Border Force are some worst off under the agency’s new enterprise agreement according to the CPSU with some staff standing to lose between $5000 and $8000 a year in take home pay. “Many are worried about how they’ll pay their bills,” Ms Flood said. [post_title] => Dutton, CPSU deny latest boat arrival caused by industrial action [post_excerpt] => Immediate rejection as accuser's identity stays a mystery. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dutton-cpsu-deny-boat-arrival-caused-by-industrial-action [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-07-23 20:39:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-07-23 10:39:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=20710 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 19065 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2015-04-14 09:49:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-04-13 23:49:27 [post_content] => HP9835A The Department of Human Services is set to spend upwards of a billion dollars rebuilding its core welfare benefits processing and payments system after federal Cabinet finally gave the green light for the massive technology overhaul that is anticipated to take at least five years. However key questions surrounding the structure and go-to-market strategy for the project are expected to be left unanswered until the May Budget as key players in Australia’s technology supplier sector go into a last minute lobbying frenzy in a bid to try and lucrative secure work. The pressing need for a core system overhaul at Human Services and especially Centrelink has already been well established with the Abbott Government and Labor Opposition persistently trading barbs over who is responsible for dragging the chain on upgrading the welfare payments engine. A major factor in the ongoing delay has been the high degree of political and financial risk associated with replacing the existing mainframe and batch processing-driven system that has collected around three decades of customisation, expedient fixes and politically-mandated coding that comes with fast-paced policy announcements which ultimately need to land in people’s bank accounts. “This important long-term investment will allow the government to properly address the challenges facing Australia's welfare system, maximise the benefits of e-government, reduce the costs of administering the system for taxpayers and help crack down on welfare cheats,” Social Services Minister Scott Morrison said. Mr Morrison said the 30-year-old system now amounted to “30 million lines of code” that had to pump out “more than 50 million daily transactions is responsible for delivering around $100 billion in payments to 7.3 million people every year.” Peel away the numbers and by far the biggest challenge for the government and the Department of Human Services remains how to build a system that is both sufficiently flexible and fast enough to respond to persistently changing policy directives and still spit out or claw back cash as required. The nearest project in terms of scale and capability remains the Commonwealth Bank’s core systems replacement delivered by the institution’s former Chief Information Officer Michael Harte who was given a strong mandate to enforce a policy that suppliers worked with and for the bank - rather than vice versa. Under that regime, conventional procurement models - which more often than not eschewed risk- were forcibly and publicly challenged in favour of conscious, active and rapid experimentation that took a bigger picture and real-world view of technology that ticked risk management check boxes. A major issue for Human Services’ commitment to an overhaul is how much of the McClure report- tasked with identifying “how to make Australia’s welfare system fairer, more effective, coherent and sustainable” - is actually adopted. A key thrust of the McClure Report was that welfare benefits and entitlements had to be simplified back to a point where recipients, the public sector and the government of the day all understood the process and expectations. An enduring frustration for welfare recipients - who traverse social strata in Australia - has been an ongoing incompatibility between related policy driven decisions and enabling systems which have forced average people to spend hours on hold just to provide basic information. "If we want a flexible and modern social security system that meets the needs of those who rely on it, then we need flexible and modern infrastructure. This will ensure changes governments make to our welfare system can be implemented quickly and cost effectively,” Human Services Minister Marise Payne said. "ICT reform will also ensure more government systems are talking to each other, lessening the compliance burden on individuals, employers and service providers. Creating a simpler system will make it easier for people to comply with requirements and spend more time searching for jobs, which is the key element of welfare reform," her senior minister Scott Morrison said. Well here’s hoping. What is far less clear is where the latest announcement leaves a bid by former Health Minister Peter Dutton to outsource around $30 billion in Medicare payments and associated benefits processing to the private sector that has now fallen to Sussan Ley. There are known reservations within the government whether the outsourcing push and the Human Services IT overhaul can work effectively in tandem, especially because of the high reliance of Medicare on DHS’ infrastructure. That issue, along with the go-to-market strategy of Human Services for its overhaul, are most likely to be revealed in weeks in the federal Budget.   [post_title] => Human Services takes $1 billion tech plunge [post_excerpt] => Medicare outsourcing in Budget limbo. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => human-services-takes-1-billion-tech-plunge [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2015-04-14 10:06:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2015-04-14 00:06:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=19065 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 17579 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-12-11 18:26:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-12-11 07:26:51 [post_content] => IV drip It’s the frontline negative advertising campaign that’s next to impossible to beat. Walk into a doctor’s surgery any time soon and there’s a fair chance you’ll see a message blaming the withdrawal of bulk billing services and a fat fee hike on the Abbott government’s GP co-payment sting. Walk over the road to a Medicare office to get your diminished partial refund and there’s a good chance you’ll see or hear another message that its staff are in dispute with their employer, Human Services, over pay and conditions. That’s the shopfront messaging which literally millions of Australians are set to see over coming weeks and months and the kind of electorally corrosive communications campaign which money just can’t buy. And for those working in a client facing role in the health or welfare sector, the public takeaway is that it’s not really a very merry Christmas at all   and you know who to blame Thursday was a case in point as more than 15,000 unionised staff across Centrelink and Medicare officially kicked off their first full day of industrial action   by refusing to wear corporate uniforms and reading out authorised messages about their dispute to clients phoning into the massive welfare department. It’s a light touch, slow burn tactic deliberately intended to minimise any prospect of customer disruption, but irritate the hell out of management and generate a groundswell of community support at the same time. And it’s just the start a pivotal battle between the Community and Public Sector Union and a Coalition government determined to curb union influence in the public service, a battle now bookended by thousands of angry doctors. “Centrelink and Medicare staff have had to cop thousands of job cuts over the years and now this Government is going after their conditions. They are angry and concerned at moves to change their working hours without consultation, cuts to their leave and the removal of their workplace rights in return for a pay rise of less than 1 per cent a year,” said CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood. “This is the first salvo in what could be a long and difficult bargaining battle for the Government. [Public Service Minister Senator Eric Abetz] has an opportunity to sit down and negotiate a sensible path to settlement, however, if he continues to refuse to talk then he can expect an escalation of industrial action early next year,” Ms Flood said. “Minister Abetz is trying to pretend this dispute is all about pay when the reality is it is about an attack on public servants’ conditions,” Ms Flood said. If public servants are unhappy, GPs are ropeable and one of the nation’s most powerful de-facto industrial organisations – the Australian Medical Association(AMA) – is already applying severe pressure to the Abbott Ministry over being saddled with the unwanted job of playing tax-collector to enforce a deeply unpopular government policy. But there’s blowback for Medicare too. With bulk billing rates hitting 82 per cent over the past year, there are seriously big consequences for Human Services shopfronts if general practitioners quickly start charging people ineligible for welfare concessions full up-front fees   rather than just getting them to sign for their service. As the fees hit, more and more people will visit shopfronts to get refunds. And if there are big queues, well, it’s n ot hard to guess where the blame will land. And that’s before the potential commercial outsourcing of Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which is now out to market, hits. Doctors, who have contributed generously to Liberal Party candidature, also stand to lose badly from the latest iteration of the co-payment. Their effective hourly consultation rate for the patients they do bulk bill could halve from $364.20 per hour – or $6.07 per minute to $181.20 per hour – or $3.02 per minute thanks to the $5 rebate reduction coupled with an increase in minimum consultation time from six minutes to ten minutes. Three figure hourly rates might sound handsome, but they come inclusive of surgery and clinic running costs, support staff wages, medical equipment and materials. “We remain disappointed that rebates for GP services for everyone else will be cut by $5. This comes on top of a freeze on Medicare patient rebates until July 2018.This means that, by 2018, Medicare rebates for many services will have been frozen for almost six years, while inflation continues to rise,” said AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler. “At a time when general practice is in need of significant new investment to cope with an ageing population and more people with chronic disease, [the revised co-payment] announcement represents a disinvestment in quality general practice.” Even the government’s one-time supporters from the medical industry are giving the co-payment a good kicking. Dr Ed Bateman, the founder of Primary Health Care was scathing in his assessment of the co-political damage from the co-payment in comments to News Limited. “They are history, no-one will trust them at the election,” Dr Bateman, who is reported to be on sick leave, said. [post_title] => An unmerry Christmas for Medicare staff and doctors [post_excerpt] => Anger mounts in CPSU and AMA. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => unmerry-christmas-medicare-staff-doctors [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-12-12 10:01:05 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-12-11 23:01:05 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=17579 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16812 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-10-23 21:03:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-10-23 10:03:20 [post_content] => Toothbrushes Dentists have sunk their teeth into the slow and frustrated progress of Australia’s attempt to build a national eHealth system, telling the federal government the scheme needs to be switched to an ‘opt-out’ model and have a name change if participation is to increase. A bulletin issued by the Australian Dental Association following consultations with the peak body over the future of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) says rather than calling the electronic document a “health record” it should be called a “health summary” to avoid mix-ups. “The term 'Record’ risks being confusing for health practitioners and patients alike, the bulletin said. “It is a summary and not a complete record and so the title “My Health Summary” is more appropriate.” Dentists also want more done to let people know about the benefits of eHealth which hasn’t exactly been an easy sell to date. The oral health industry also wants a bite of any new funding that may flow. “The Australian Government must provide adequate resources and incentives for all users including health practitioners (not just medical GPs) to be able to explain the benefits of this to patients and to allay concerns about privacy,” the ADA said. “Such work must be alongside a national information and educational campaign conducted by the Australian Government.” Other recommendations to the government include better support for “tertiary education and training institutions” to teach graduating health practitioners how to use the eHealth system so they can use it immediately upon entering the workforce. Similarly, dentists also want the government to “roll out other features such as ePrescriptions” and to use “Primary Health Networks” to “provide face to face training for health practitioners on how to use the MyHR and other aspects of eHealth.” Oral-Health, Australian-Dental-Association, PCEHR, AMA, Australian-Medical-Association, eHealth, NeHTA, Gonski, Peter-Dutton Dentists want opt-out eHealth record Review of PCEHR drilled over functionality, training Dentists have sunk their teeth into the slow and frustrated progress of Australia’s attempt to build a national eHealth system, telling the federal government the scheme needs to be switched to an ‘opt-out’ model and have a name change if participation is to increase. A bulletin issued by the Australian Dental Association following consultations with the peak body over the future of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) says rather than calling the electronic document a “health record” it should be called a “health summary” to avoid mix-ups. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/f48e3ab7541bf55cdb52793b6/files/ndu_october_2014.pdf “The term 'Record’ risks being confusing for health practitioners and patients alike, the bulletin said. “It is a summary and not a complete record and so the title “My Health Summary” is more appropriate.” Dentists also want more done to let people know about the benefits of eHealth which hasn’t exactly been an easy sell to date. The oral health industry also wants a bite of any new funding that may flow. “The Australian Government must provide adequate resources and incentives for all users including health practitioners (not just medical GPs) to be able to explain the benefits of this to patients and to allay concerns about privacy,” the ADA said. “Such work must be alongside a national information and educational campaign conducted by the Australian Government.” Other recommendations to the government include better support for “tertiary education and training institutions” to teach graduating health practitioners how to use the eHealth system so they can use it immediately upon entering the workforce. Similarly, dentists also want the government to “roll out other features such as ePrescriptions” and to use “Primary Health Networks” to “provide face to face training for health practitioners on how to use the MyHR and other aspects of eHealth.” [post_title] => Dentists want 'opt-out' eHealth record [post_excerpt] => Review of PCEHR drilled over functionality, training. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => dentists-want-opt-ehealth-record [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-23 22:08:47 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-23 11:08:47 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16812 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16503 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-09-30 21:34:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-09-30 11:34:29 [post_content] => [caption id="attachment_16504" align="alignnone" width="614"]these pills are fine to pass the time Thrills, pills and bellyaches ... outsourcing health payments has it all.[/caption] The row over the Abbott government’s plans to try and outsource Medicare’s electronic payments functions, as well as some claims processing, has gone into overdrive after Human Services Minister Senator Marise Payne intervened to hit out at a new union TV attack ad blitz targeted against the move. The Community and Public Sector Union on Tuesday launched a new television and You Tube video campaign slamming the government’s push to send Medicare’s transactional processing for payments to the private sector, a move that would result in around $30 billion in payments volume being outsourced. The 30 second ads feature morphing actors portraying variety of everyday people, nurses and doctors saying that the government is planning to “sell-off” Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) payments through a “back door” as the beginning of a wider push to privatise Medicare. If privatising is selling, and outsourcing is buying, those subtleties have been lost thanks to visceral political stoush now hitting the airwaves. The CPSU’s attack ads come the union knuckles down to the business-end of enterprise bargaining after its governing council gave the green light to members to initiate industrial action over below inflation offers of pay rises combined with a raft of diluted conditions. Despite the ultimate responsibility for the outsourcing push resting firmly with the portfolio of Health Minister Peter Dutton, Human Services Payne minister has nonetheless intervened firmly in the outsourcing row   which now threatens to engulf all of the Human Services brands that extend across Centrelink and Child Support, Hearing Australia and the former Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service that now insists upon being called CRS Australia. It is also understood that the push to outsource Medicare’s payments does not sit entirely comfortably within parts of the welfare bureaucracy that favour a far less controversial, more considered and cohesive solution to the replacement of ageing technology. “The Government is not privatising Medicare,” Senator Payne told Government News. “We [have] taken this action because the IT systems that manage the claims and payments processes are in need of a substantial upgrade.” Despite the Health portfolio recently talking-up the potential for outsourcing as a way of bringing in private sector efficiency, Senator Payne has taken a decidedly more cautious tone by pointing out that the government was still scoping for potential solution via an EOI as opposed to going to a full tender. She said the government initiated the EOI process “to determine the level of private sector interest and capability in providing IT services for the claims and payments processes associated with Medicare.” But the level of financial services industry interest in what is a relatively small but high risk chunk of payments volume is ultimately the critical determinant in whether the government can realise its outsourcing ambitions, irrespective of the political motivations. Finance sector sources Government News spoke to suggested that the conspicuous talking-up of the Abbott government’s privatisation agenda may draw applause in business circles, but didn’t necessarily translate into bids for work. One risk that industry is known to be wary of is the potential for policies that affect payments to be changed very quickly. The exposure for service providers there is that private operators could end up carrying the can for expedient or defective policies that don’t sufficiently take into account impacts on customers and end users. A banking source said that given the relative health of the Australian financial services sector, it had to be asked whether there were easier, less risky options to make money for the potential reward   a natural setting for institutions. There are also still strong memories of the Howard government’s previous efforts to bring efficiency to government payments and the administration of welfare money. While systems like Medicare’s EasyClaim initiative – which electronically issues Medicare refunds from a point of sale rather than from a Medicare office   eventually got traction, relations with industry descended into litigation following the 2007 change of government. In 2008 ASX listed payments infrastructure and clearing house ICS Global sued Medicare for abuse of market power after the agency decided to enter the market to enable free transactions between the government and health service providers where commercial providers had previously clipped the ticket on transactions. While Medicare ultimately agreed to a settlement of $460,000 to pay out ICS subsidiary THELMA in 2009, the episode ultimately served as a lesson about the inherent risks of swift policy changes. As those memories are reignited in industry, Senator Payne was looking to calm the fears of TV viewers pondering what a privatised Medicare might look like thanks to the CPSU’s ads. “This is just another misleading and irresponsible scare campaign. Even the most cursory examination shows the union’s claims hold no credibility,” Senator Payne said. “At this point no decisions have been made. It is much too early to try to predict whether or how this might affect staff at the Department of Human Services. “Any changes would need to meet the Australian Government’s privacy and security requirements,” Senator Payne said. [post_title] => Payne pillories CPSU Medicare attack ads [post_excerpt] => Health Department just window shopping, not selling, says Human Services minister. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => payne-pillories-cpsu-medicare-attack-ads [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-10-07 13:57:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-10-07 02:57:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16503 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 1 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16336 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-09-17 23:25:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-09-17 13:25:56 [post_content] => IMGP1866 Telstra chief executive David Thodey might have told investors and consumers the carrier’s call centre jobs may not exist in five years . . . but that hasn’t stopped the privatised former government monopoly dispatching staff into one of the Commonwealth’s biggest phone rooms, the Department of Human Services to cut costs. The national carrier is preparing to imminently send its change management agents into the social security juggernaut as part of a big push to wean millions of Australia’s welfare recipients off making calls to humans and onto more cost efficient digital channels to save millions. Under the new arrangement, it is understood that Telstra staff, or potentially those of a “third party provider” would sit cheek by jowl with DHS staff as they try to steer callers to ostensibly quicker and easier ways to resolve their inquiries rather than picking up the phone. An as yet unverified internal DHS announcement to staff “proposes partnering with Telstra to deliver call centres services for the Department of Human Services under the department’s established telecommunication arrangement” with the deal kicking in from October 2014. “This would see Telstra, who may also work with a third party provider, work side by side with the department as a trusted partner, not only delivering services, but providing insight into industry best practice due to their position as an expert in contact centre management,” the apparently leaked document suggests. Unions immediately slammed down the receiver on the push, blasting it as a “decision to outsource Centrelink and Medicare call centre work putting thousands of regional jobs at risk.” “There is a real and growing fear among workers that this government is hell bent on breaking up and selling off chunks of the public sector to its big business mates. Tony Abbott's own Commission of Audit set a blueprint for outsourcing and now this Government is wasting no time in acting on it,” said Community and Public Sector Union National Secretary, Nadine Flood. “We have seen it with the decision to outsource Medicare payments to the private sector and now we are seeing it with Centrelink work going to Telstra.” But both the carrier and DHS have have stridently rejected the CPSU’s claim that either have “entered into a contract with Telstra starting next month” with the “potential to impact 7,000 call centre staff in 28 sites across Australia, based mainly in regional centres and suburbs.” “Telstra has not entered into an agreement to take over contact centre services for DHS,” a spokeswoman for Telstra said. “We are currently discussing a potential pilot out of the Department’s call centres in Bunbury and Queanbeyan to help improve contact centres services. This does not result in any job losses for DHS.” Telstra does, however, have an existing $474 million deal to “build and manage” a “unified communications” for DHS that was inked in 2012 for a period of 5 years. “Through our expertise in network applications and services, Telstra will not only roll out the new network but will also fully manage the entire platform for the Department, including the telephony, multi-channel contact centre and video conferencing services,” Telstra’s Group Managing Director for Enterprise and Government, Paul Geason said in an announcement at the time. Hank Jongen, DHS’ public affairs point man similarly rejected the CPSU’s claims and related reports as parts of the Coalition contemplated the electoral horror story which could ensue from the idea of a government department potentially offshoring sensitive social security call centre work. “Telstra is not taking over Centrelink and Medicare call services,” Mr Jongen said. “That assertion is completely wrong. This proposed arrangement would complement our skilled workforce and would not impact on our existing staff. Mr Jongen said that claims that work “would be sent offshore are completely wrong.” “It is important to note that partnering is not a new concept for the department or Government. In the past, we have accessed similar provisions within other contracts to engage staff as required to meet demand.” That may indeed be true, however telecommunications industry sources noted that the locations of Queanbeyan (immediately outside Canberra) and Bunbury (just outside Perth) were both, respectively, in the sensetive Coalition-held seats of Eden-Monaro and Forrest where local employment remains a burning issue. The idea that welfare recipients could potentially be “transferred to Manila” would simply be too horrific  to sell, it was suggested. What is known is that as lower difficulty enquiries and transactions naturally to automated and online channels, Centrelink’s call centre and counter staff are being increasingly required to deal with so-called “high intensity” cases that take a psychological drain on the customer facing staff. Senior officials at DHS have previously cautioned the shift to automation will result in public facing staff shouldering a greater load of more difficult and challenging cases, or put more bluntly, difficult and abusive clients. That logical scenario could necessitate a greater rotation of skilled DHS to prevent the kind of staff burnout rates previously exhibited at the former Child Support Agency where managing client hostility resulted in expensive churn and recruitment difficulties. The Coalition has a stated policy objective of moving the majority of government transactions online by 2017, with Communications Minister recently conceding the shift could hit Australia Post’s bottom line by further reducing paper mail volumes. [post_title] => Human Services and Telstra deny plans to outsource call centres [post_excerpt] => Voice recognition and internet automation the real jobs threat. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => human-services-telstra-deny-plans-outsource-call-centres [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-09-22 19:53:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-09-22 09:53:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16336 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 16334 [post_author] => 655 [post_date] => 2014-09-17 23:15:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-09-17 13:15:57 [post_content] => 110812-N-DB801-028 Editor's note: The accuracy of the below announcement is still to be either officially confirmed or rejected by the Department of Human Services or Telstra. Government News has published the text in the interests of clarity and informed discussion. Partnering with Telstra – exciting opportunities for Smart Centres As you are aware, the Smart Centre operating model has been progressively implemented over the last two years.  Since the beginning of the 2014 calendar year we have seen real achievements in terms of the way we do our work and where we do our work. We have seen some outstanding results following the full roll out of the skills pyramid and the deployment of intermittent and irregular workers has helped us to rapidly shift the way we approach our work. We are now more in control of workflow across the various channels in Smart Centres – telephony, new claims and other maintenance work, and we have a better understanding of the demand for our services, the work we have on hand and how best to deploy our resources to deliver outcomes for Australians. However, we cannot rest on the achievements so far and we must keep reforming and being innovative in our service delivery approach. In looking forward to how we can keep improving the Smart Centres model, the department proposes partnering with Telstra to deliver call centres services for the Department of Human Services under the department’s established telecommunication arrangement. This would see Telstra, who may also work with a third party provider, work side by side with the department as a trusted partner, not only delivering services, but providing insight into industry best practice due to their position as an expert in contact centre management. Initially, the work would focus on Centrelink and Medicare Public activities such as requests for replacement concession and Medicare cards, appointment bookings, general queries and other transactions like BasicsCard balance updates.  The arrangement will also have a focus on our digital streaming agenda with the inclusion of a range of activities that are either currently available online or are proposed to move online in the future. It is proposed that the department will enter into an arrangement with Telstra for these services for up to 12 months, commencing from the end of October 2014. This partnership will operate from departmental sites utilising departmental information technology and telephony resources.  Telstra will deliver the services from departmental premises located in Bunbury and ACT/Queanbeyan.  This will provide coverage and help manage demand across the various Australian time zones. By managing the work this way we will create capacity, allowing our experienced staff to focus on more sustainable and complex work to help those most in need. This partnership will also move Smart Centre staff closer to a blended working arrangement that includes end to end service delivery with a focus on first contact resolution. The department will ensure through this arrangement that APS standards and Code of Conduct and departmental values in regard to behaviour, quality and performance are maintained. The department will specify a framework that will cover the performance of services during the contract period and matters such as fraud control, privacy and security. [post_title] => Unconfirmed text of Human Services announcement of on-site Telstra call centre staff [post_excerpt] => Comments welcome. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => unconfirmed-text-human-service-announcement-regarding-site-telstra-call-centre-staff [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-09-19 11:15:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-09-19 01:15:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=16334 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 15987 [post_author] => 671 [post_date] => 2014-08-15 15:56:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2014-08-15 05:56:39 [post_content] => Roger Wilkins Another of Canberra’s top public service positions has been thrown open without a successor named, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed on Friday that Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, Roger Wilkins AO, will depart at the end of August. Mr Wilkins was an unexpected survivor following significant machinery of government changes in the wake of the so-called ‘night of the short knives’ that dispatched Andrew Metcalfe, Don Russell and Blair Comley respectively from Agriculture, Industry and Energy. “Mr Wilkins has had a distinguished public service career, having led the Attorney-General’s Department since September 2008,” Mr Abbott said, adding that an announcement of a successor would come would be made “in the near future.” Aside from his long stint as the head of AGD, Mr Wilkins has also been the Director-General of the Cabinet Office in New South Wales from 1992 to 2006 and the Director-General of the Ministry of Arts in New South Wales from 2001-2006. Meanwhile, the public service is still waiting for an announcement of a replacement for Jane Halton at the Department of Health after she was appointed to the pivotal role of Secretary of the Department of Finance. Health Minister Peter Dutton’s still headless department has for the past week been attempting reassure worried stakeholders over the proposed outsourcing of Medicare and PBS payments that the government wants “commercial” providers to undertake. Australia Post has reportedly expressed strong interest in the work. [post_title] => Federal Attorney General's Department head to leave [post_excerpt] => No replacement named for Roger Wilkins [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => federal-attorney-generals-department-head-leave [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2014-11-20 17:23:54 [post_modified_gmt] => 2014-11-20 06:23:54 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=15987 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 14 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 27743 [post_author] => 670 [post_date] => 2017-08-02 14:33:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2017-08-02 04:33:30 [post_content] => Andrew Hudson The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton used his opening address at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIPB) Industry Summit on Monday morning (31 July 2017) to assure those in the private supply chain and their clients that the current work agenda would be maintained under the proposed Home Affairs department. Along with the Acting Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF), Minister Dutton reiterated that the ABF would continue in its traditional ‘Customs’ role and the ABF, as part of the DIBP, would also continue its vital engagement with industry and development of trade facilitation measures to assist in the legitimate trade in goods and movement in people. At the time of the announcement of the creation of the new Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the focus of the commentary was on national and border security issues with no comment on the traditional ‘Customs’ role of the ABF or its ongoing engagement with industry and the facilitation of international trade at the border. Naturally, there were some concerns that the failure to address these important roles could mean that the importance of those roles was being downgraded and that momentum on various initiatives here and overseas could be lost with an increased focus on security and intervention in trade. Both speakers made the point that the involvement of the ABF with the DHA would allow the ABF to have access to additional information at an earlier stage than is presently the case, which would actually enhance the ability of the ABF to carry out its roles. These outcomes were all consistent with the theme of the industry summit being “Border Innovation: strengthening our nation’s economy, security and society.” In terms of the work of the DIBP and the ABF in the engagement with industry in relation to the movement of goods, there was reference to recent achievements and future commitments with such initiatives as:
  • The creation of a ‘single window’ for trade such as in Singapore and New Zealand.
  • The expansion of the Australian Trusted Trader Program (ATTP).
  • The recent completion of four Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with other customs services for those in the ATTP.
  • The promise of more MRA with customs services in other trading partners.
  • The development and implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) to improve the use of those current and future FTAs by the adoption of robust Rules of Origin, enhanced border clearance facilitation.
  • The increased use of more advance technology and reporting systems.
There were similar references to commitments in the migration space as relating to the movement of persons. The comments provide a degree of assurance to industry that the current work agenda would be maintained and developed and that the engagement with industry remained a priority. While the reference to the achievements and initiative represents only a reiteration of those developments currently known to industry, their clear support from the Federal Government filled in a gap in the story that arose with the announcements relating to the DHA. Industry looks forward to continued engagement on these projects and its ongoing collaborative work with government, whether the DIBP, the ABF or other agencies that have a role at the border. Andrew Hudson is Partner with Rigby Cooke Lawyers’ Litigation Team, specialising in all areas of trade including international trade conventions, dispute resolution and arbitration, trade financing options, commodity and freight contracts as well as dealing with regulation of the movement of goods at the border by all Government agencies. He is also a member of many of the consultative bodies established by Government in the trade space, including the National Committee on Trade Facilitation convened by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the International Trade Remedies Forum convened by the Anti - Dumping Commission (ADC) as well as associated sub-committees. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Export Council of Australia (ECA) and the Food and Beverage Importers Association (FBIA) and works closely with other industry associations representing those in the supply chain. [post_title] => When all things change, Customs stays the same [post_excerpt] => Minister Dutton has assured those in the supply chain that the current work agenda would be maintained under the Home Affairs department. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => things-change-customs-stays [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-08-02 14:36:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-08-02 04:36:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.governmentnews.com.au/?p=27743 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 21 [max_num_pages] => 2 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => 1 [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => 1 [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => [is_robots] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 35b1d8b61e2d9c349a61c5913230bdda [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 1 [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )

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