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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 275 asked in the Legislative Council on 31 March 2020 by Hon Peter Collier

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

CORONAVIRUS — PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS

275. Hon PETER COLLIER to the Leader of the House representing the Premier:

I refer to the Premier's comments in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, 18 March 2020 that he had no plans at that time for non-frontline public servants to operate from home to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

(1) Does the Premier now have plans for non-frontline public servants to work from home?

(2) If no to (1), why not?

(3) Is the Premier aware that government departments and government trading enterprises have taken it upon themselves to have non-frontline public servants work from home to stop the spread of coronavirus?

(4) If yes to (3), what departments and GTEs is the Premier aware of that have non-frontline public servants working from home?

Hon SUE ELLERY replied:

I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question.

(1)–(2) The public sector is essential and open for business, but it is not business as usual. In line with the Australian government response, the Western Australian government is implementing staged measures, with business changes already affecting some public sector employees and further measures anticipated, including changed service delivery arrangements.

Different agencies are at different stages of capability and readiness to transition to different ways of working and delivering services. Public sector CEOs have been advised to continue preparing and moving their organisations and employees to perform their work differently, as required, whether that is working as they do now to deliver frontline services, working from home or another location, or being deployed to work in areas of greatest need. Not all employees will be able to work remotely or from home.

For the foreseeable future, the Premier has directed the public sector to focus on delivering critical frontline services and support functions, driving the state's COVID-19 response, and preparing for Western Australia's economic and social recovery and resilience. To position the public sector to provide the best service to the state in this time, CEOs are continuing to work closely with their ministers to ensure that changes to services, programs, initiatives and working arrangements are agreed and happen in an orderly and planned way.

(3)–(4) CEOs have been told to make decisions in the best interests of their agencies and employees, and in accordance with directions and guidance provided by the Public Sector Commissioner, public sector labour relations and the Department of Health.