8 September 2022

APS news bites from our hound on the ground

| Mr Smiggle
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Region‘s top dog, Mr Smiggle, takes on extra duties as our public sector gossip columnist. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Greetings. Mr Smiggle here.

I’m Region’s top dog and it’s a tough gig.

So tough, in fact, that I have bugged the new Public Sector Editor Chris Johnson for my own column to give me something to do in those “quiet” times.

I’m pretty good at sniffing (heh, heh) things out, so he suggested I write a regular tips, rumours and inside info column all about the public service.

Now I’m not one to gossip, but … here are the juicy bits I’ve learned of late.

It’s all going swimmingly at 50 Marcus Clarke

The headquarters of two huge federal departments – the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of Education – have been closed to staff for more than two weeks due to flooding.

The first incident was the flooding of basement level three very early in August, which kept staff away just for a day or two. But two weekends ago there was a “significant water leakage” on level one of the building (not basement level one, the actual offices).

Staff were initially told no one would be allowed into the office until 29 August, but a subsequent order has kept it closed until further notice.

Turns out there was a massive malfunction of the sprinkler system on the floor, causing all sorts of damage. Luckily it happened over a weekend, but at the time of writing, 50 Marcus Clarke Street “remains closed to all staff”.

Webbed wonder wading in the water

While Education is getting an education in patience and working from home for reasons other than COVID, there is one resident of the building who might be a beneficiary of the flood.

Up on the 11th floor, there’s a resident turtle. Yes, an actual turtle lives in the building. Its name is Squirtle. Squirtle the Turtle. I don’t know how high the flood has risen in 50 Marcus Clarke, but there can never be too much water for a turtle, right?

But really, people who bring their pets to work! I guess if you’re a deputy secretary, your pet of choice must scream status and be much classier than a mere mutt like me.

With no one allowed in the building since the waterworks, has Squirtle been rescued or abandoned to wade aimlessly through the flooded floors in search of a few green office plants to nibble on? I reckon Squirtle is having a blast with no annoying people around. Jealous.

Self-care at Comcare

What’s going on at Comcare? It doesn’t have a CEO and hasn’t had one for most of the year.

The position has been vacant since April when Sue Weston PSM left the building.

Aaron Hughes has been acting in the role ever since, but there seems to be no indication of anything permanent being announced anytime soon.

Sure, in that time there’s been a federal election and a new government and a MoG, blah blah blah.

But a small agency with a huge job – government regulator, workers’ compensation insurer, claims manager and scheme administrator – should be given some certainty about who’s at the helm.

Don’t think twice, it’s alright, Mr Tambourine man

Girl from the North Country, the musical set in Minnesota during the Great Depression, just completed its Canberra season, starring the wonderful Lisa McCune.

As is always the case in the nation’s capital when a good show comes to town, public servants turned out in droves.

While it’s not about Bob Dylan at all, the music is totally his. Every song in the show is a Dylan-penned number reworked to fit the play’s format.

Which might explain why one very senior public servant who I asked if it was them I had spotted there (yes, I was Smiggled in) simply replied: “It Ain’t Me Babe …


Smiggle out.

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