Migration Alliance’s Liana Allan recently had a ‘Thank you’ card returned with a letter from the APS officer suggesting that the card is somehow a breach of the APS Code of Conduct and as such the card had to be returned as the officer needed ‘not to be seen to be biased or impartial’.
The officer from the FOI and Privacy Section stated in the letter enclosing Liana Allan's 'Thank you" card that, “I am bound by the APS Code of Conduct which requires that as an APS employee I must at all times behave in a way that upholds the APS Values and APS Employment Principles.”
The APS Code of Conduct, The Public Service Regulations (1999) and the APS Employment Policy and Advice Guide do deal with the issue of gifts and benefits (There is no mention of cards). However, the APS guidelines recognise that issues in these areas are “not always straightforward” and in effect allows some discretion.
Such discretion fortunately has been exercised with some common sense business etiquette in mind in several other instances. Liana Allan points out, “Over the past 12 months I have sent around 10 of these thank you cards to various sections of the DIBP. The other cards have not been returned in this way. This is absolutely ridiculous.”
And actually quite insulting, let alone the waste of time and cost by the officer involved in drafting that letter and returning the card by registered post with the suggestion that Liana write to the Global Feedback Unit with her compliments, which now of course has to be a complaint.