Page 3005 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022
pass them on, having everything in one place, pays dividends many times over. I am concerned that not enough attention is paid in the budget to these unglamorous roles. When was the last time that there was a new policy proposal announced, with a budget for the archives area? I ask seriously, because I cannot find one and gave up after checking the last five budgets.
I wonder whether budget bids are knocked back or whether they have never been put in in the first place. Instead, the territory utilises a demand-driven model, where ACT residents have to ask for certain items to be digitised. There is no proactive plan to digitise our archives and I am worried about what may be lost—for example, in a filing cabinet sent to the tip, filled with old ACT maps.
The use of paper records in certain parts of the ACT government also concerns me. The potential for time savings from investing in digital systems would make the ACT government so much more efficient and effective, whilst improving outcomes for the community. It makes me wonder what instances there are within the ACT government reliant on antiquated, not-fit-for-purpose business systems. I exhort work areas to put forward bids for enabling digital systems for these functions and I exhort the Treasury to support these bids, for without these systems and records we are dooming the ACT government to slow, inefficient systems where we fail to learn from our mistakes.
I would like to move on to the public service. I note that the ACT Public Service Code of Conduct states:
A public employee must conduct themselves in an apolitical manner, act objectively and bring a neutral mind to their work regardless of their personal beliefs and preferences or personal relationships with other public employees or with the members of the community. They must serve the government of the day in an unbiased fashion, free from prejudice.
I am not suggesting that political behaviour has occurred, but during estimates questions were raised about website branding and recruitment to public service positions. Canberra is a public service town and has a sophisticated antennae for how certain outcomes may be achieved, even when rules have been followed. Simply relying on the fact that rules have been followed is not sufficient. The ACTPS not only needs to act in an apolitical manner at all times but also must be seen by the ACT community to be apolitical. The community perception of the ACTPS must be jealously guarded to maintain that trust, and I exhort the ACTPS to fiercely maintain its independence and, therefore, its integrity.
Moving on to another item from within the CMTEDD budget, the Treasurer, for very good reasons, would not disclose what levels of wage increases were factored into the budget, but it also meant that the estimates committee were unable to assess the risk of the impact of these wage increases to the budget position, which could be substantial, given that employee expenses make up over half of the ACT budget. This is something we will need to monitor, going forward.
I also note that the estimates committee provided a revenue proposal looking at a tiered payroll tax system. Given that the evidence for such a system is over a decade old, we recommended that the government re-examine the question. This was one of the items that was simply noted and no further action was proposed.