7 August 2015 – letter to the Editor of The Canberra Times

The following Letter to the Editor was provided to The Canberra Times in response to an article that overstated the number of vacant desks across the department’s leases in Canberra:

Dear editor,

The assertions made this week (Department’s lease liabilities add to plague of empty desks, 6 August) appear to be deliberately overstating the extent of vacancies across Department of Human Services leases in Canberra.

In the first instance, the article refers to a report prepared by the Department of Finance using September 2014 data and states the Department of Human Services has over 1000 empty desks in Canberra. I note the figures used in the report show the department actually had 770 vacant desks at that time.

The Doris Blackburn Building on Canberra Avenue was opened in 2012 after an expression of interest process to replace the existing out-dated accommodation on Canberra Avenue.

As we have already made very clear, Doris Blackburn is currently at capacity and overall our Canberra buildings are at 95 per cent occupancy. It is necessary to allow for some surge capacity—there is no wastage.

Hank Jongen
General Manager, Department of Human Services