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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 4 Hansard (16 March) . . Page.. 1110..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

that the machinery of government and all the issues that that office deals with are actually being attended to and are being looked at. If that can occur, a lot of the problems of the past will actually go away. So I impress that point on the minister and I hope that she will take it on board. I am pleased she has taken on board quite a number of things to date, and I hope that she and her colleagues will take that on board.

Secondly, the minister has just indicated what the government has done. It has publicly advertised for applicants for the position-advertised quite widely, from what the minister said-and that too is pleasing. The third point, which is important, is that the ACT government, of whatever political persuasion, commits to a transparent, merit-based selection process when appointing and reappointing all commissioners and statutory office holders. There has been a tendency, in recent years and perhaps over the last decade, to have a number of tasks, normally undertaken by just a normal department, done by statutory office holders, done by commissioners. The jobs are usually very responsible, well-paid jobs. There is an expectation in the community of a transparent and merit-based selection process-that people are simply not getting jobs for the boys or girls-and a rigour that has applied traditionally, certainly in my experience. It is generally accepted in Australia that with public service jobs there is and always has been a certain amount of rigour and transparency. People certainly expect that in any area of government, and I think it is crucially important.

We have seen in recent times some additional statutory appointments. I think there are plans now for a "commissioner alley", that is, a whole series of commissioners working out of one area. I think we have got a new commissioner now for youth services. So I do not think we are going to have fewer statutory office holders, fewer commissioners: all the more reason for it to be as transparent as possible. There has in recent times been some concern in various areas of the community, normally where people are actively involved in a certain area where there is a statutory appointment, that there has not been, or there appears not to have been, as much transparency or such merit-based selection processes in place as there should be and that those particular groups-and it flows through to the general community-would expect. So the third part of Dr Foskey's motion is very important for any government. Accordingly, Mr Speaker, the opposition is quite happy to support this motion as amended, which specifically does two things and notes one other thing.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.23), in reply: It is wonderful how when we all agree on something we do not feel it necessary to talk on and on about it. I am not quite sure what the lesson is in that but, in this case, it is very good that I do not have to defend this motion. It seems to me to be a completely straightforward motion and if people were to disagree with it, they would really need to consider what they required of statutory oversight positions.

I think that the crucial point is that five-year reappointment process, which is where we have amended our motion. There are issues around the reappointment of a person in terms of hearing all sides of the opinions and experiences of people who have worked with the commissioner. I hope that there would always be a process that allowed that. Of course, there would be the temptation for governments to reappoint somebody who had been easier for them to work with but whom the community may not have found effective.


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