Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 2994..
MS FOLLETT (continuing):
Whilst I disagree in principle with this legislation, there are some points, Mr Speaker, on which the Government ought to acknowledge that some of the criticism being made is valid. If Mrs Carnell were a big enough person to admit that this is one such occasion, I would certainly have a far greater regard for her and for the people who prepared this legislation. It is not the first time that there has had to be a change made. I think it would be only commonsense for Mrs Carnell to admit that there was a mistake and it has to be changed.
Mr Speaker, after all of the deliberation in the Public Accounts Committee, the report and the Government's response to that report, and all the denials from the Government about the effect of this clause, I think it is now very apparent that the Government, itself, has had to move to have that clause removed because it was draconian in effect. It is still very unclear whether the Government did not know what they were doing, and I suspect that is the case, or whether they changed their mind after the formal response to the PAC report was tabled; but what is very clear is that the Government's action now is contradicting their earlier statements in the explanatory memorandum. We have had no explanation whatsoever from Mrs Carnell, except that it would cost more if people were to cash out their entitlements. That may well be the case in the short term, but the fact of the matter is, Mr Speaker, that it is the officers themselves who lose over the longer term by cashing out their entitlements. There is no way a cashed out entitlement is worth as much to you as that entitlement taken in full when you want to take it.
Mr Speaker, I think that, as a rationale, the one that Mrs Carnell has put forward is so flimsy that you can only draw the conclusion that the Government really do not know what they are doing and that they have really no idea of what was the effect of their proposal earlier on. They may now have come to that realisation, but there is no doubt whatsoever that originally long serving public servants were to have their accumulated entitlements cashed out.
Mrs Carnell: That is absolute rubbish. Where does it say that they were required to?
MS FOLLETT: Mr Speaker, I will read from the explanatory memorandum again if Mrs Carnell still has not read it. It says:
The purpose of this provision is to provide for the "cashing out" of accrued leave. As Executive contracts will be for periods of five years or less, it is undesirable that persons entering those contracts retain large leave credits.
Mr Speaker, that says to me that the Government wanted them to cash out their credits, and now they have changed their minds. I think that they ought to be big enough to admit that they were wrong in the first place and that their response to the Public Accounts Committee was wrong. They really do owe the Assembly an apology on that score.
Mr De Domenico: Bitter and twisted.