Feds get $1.1 million parking ticket

By Julian Bajkowski

If you thought the price of parking is a rip-off, spare a thought for Senator Penny Wong, the Federal Finance Minister.

New figures and analysis released today by Canberra’s top bean-counters reveal that the Commonwealth public servants spent a total $1.1 million in ‘parking fees’ over the 2011-12 financial year – a sum sure to arouse keen pre-Budget interest as the Gillard government hunts for savings.

The numbers are contained in a new dump of federal spending data that has been released as part of the Department of Finance’s efforts to bring greater transparency to government expenditure.

The Department Finance’s analysis shows that the $1.1 million was spent on 20 parking contracts with an average value of $56,000.

The documents do not say in which cities the parking contracts were awarded, however the skeletal amount of public transport couple with paucity of taxis in Canberra, the hub of federal government activity, has long made car travel a necessity rather than a choice for most public servants.

What makes the price of parking even more stark is the federal government spent just $2.5 million on car rentals – which, at a price of $75 per day would equate to 33,333 rental days on the road.

According to the Australian Public Service Commission, at 30 June 2012 there were 168,580 staff in the Australian Public Service.

The accommodation sector has also done relatively well out of the public service with $76.9 million spent on “hotel rooms”; another $42.1 million was spent on “hotels and lodgings and meeting facilities”; and a further $26.4 “hotels motels and inns” – to come in at a restful $145 million.

The quality of federally approved lodgings has been a source of recent controversy. There is ongoing litigation over compensation claimed by female public servant who was injured after a motel room fixture came loose and injured her while she was engaged in an after-hours liaison.

Travel agents, for whom the federal sector is sought-after business, were paid $15.2 million, which is not bad considering $55 million was spent on air travel.

Senator Wong has been on a public crusade to rein in public sector travel costs, especially around air travel with clampdowns on more expensive flexible fares and a concerted push to get more competitive prices by encouraging airlines like Virgin to vie for federal business over long-standing incumbent Qantas.

Another area of focus has been an attempt to unseat middle to senior public servants from business class on shorter domestic routes, a move dubbed the ‘economy-class war’ in some public sector circles.

The price of doing government business over the phone has also been laid bare. Expenditure on ‘local and long distance telephone communications’ was $15.3 million while spending mobile phones, presumably handsets, was $4.4 million.

Based on an outright handset cost of $900, that equates to 4800 iPhones – making it fairly clear why many agencies and chief information officers, including Defence, are keen to embrace the trend of Bring Your Own Device or BYOD.

The government’s software purchasing receipts expose the full power of transfer pricing coupled with a generally low appetite for home-grown applications. Software deemed as “overseas content” came in at $248,5 million while “Australian content “ was a mere $14.3 million, figures that equate to 94.5 per cent of software coming from abroad.

According to the Australian Public Service Commission, at 30 June 2012 there were 168,580 staff in the Australian Public Service.

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0 thoughts on “Feds get $1.1 million parking ticket

  1. What are talking about this is australia and we are not .
    ofcourse there are expensive car parks and hire cars particulary in sydney and western australia

    Dont complain and make it big issue enough is enough

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