Government to close ‘unsustainable’ AVO

After more than a century, the Australian Valuation Office (AVO) will close on 30 June with the loss of almost 200 jobs.
  The office, which was established in 1910, performs fee-for-service valuations to Government Departments, with much of its work determining the value of property assets of welfare and pension claimants.
  The Government says the Agency has become unsustainable and is expected to incur losses of up to $4 million this financial year.
  The losses are forecast to get worse each year as the AVO’s revenue declines sharply due to technological changes in the valuation industry and Government Departments decreasing their use of the AVO’s services.
  On top of the predicated losses, at least $1 million would have been required for the AVO to bring its IT equipment up to date.
  Staff were told last week that the Government was closing their Agency and they would be facing redundancy or redeployment in their parent Department, the Australian Taxation Office.
200 jobs to go
Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Steven Ciobo said a compelling case for the Commonwealth providing its own valuation services no longer existed, particularly given there was a highly competitive market of private sector providers.
  Mr Ciobo said the Australian Taxation Office would work with affected employees and manage the wind-down period for the organisation, with up to 198 staff to be offered redundancies.
  The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) is calling for an urgent meeting with the Minister for Public Service, Eric Abetz following the announcement, which will mean $34 million of work is offloaded to the private sector.
  National Secretary of the CPSU, Nadine Flood said the Government was turning its back on regional Australia through the closure.
  The closure will affect workers in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney as well as regional towns including, Young, Bowral, Wagga Wagga, Lismore, Mildura and Port Lincoln.
  Most of the office’s valuers work in major tax offices in Collins Street, Melbourne and Parramatta in Sydney, from home in rural or regional Australia.
  “Given the growing number of jobs that are disappearing in regional Australia, these workers are going to find it tough to find another job,” Ms Flood said.
  “This Government said it was in the business of creating jobs, not destroying them.”
  Australian Valuation Office workers were told in November by their boss, Kath Quigley, that although she hoped to be able to resurrect the income stream, they should expect redundancies.
  The office managed an after-tax surplus of $800,000 in the 2012-13 financial year from a budget of $34.7 million and was working on securing its future by offering its services to the private sector.
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