Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4380..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
The ACTION Authority commenced operations on 1 January 2002, providing independent governance and employment arrangements for a business that had previously operated as a fully integrated part of the ACT public service.
The government is committed to a bus service for Canberra that continues to provide high-quality services to the community in an efficient manner and a critical element in providing this level of service is a unified and committed work force. For this reason, the government was keen to ensure when the authority was established that employees transferred over on the same terms and conditions as they enjoyed prior to the new arrangements. There are certain provisions in ACTION's legislation that are designed to ensure just that.
During 2002, a detailed review of the actual wording of the legislation resulted in a number of anomalies being identified which could have meant that some employees did not have all entitlements preserved and that new employees would not be treated equally with existing employees. While the legislation was effective in ensuring the preservation of entitlements when employees transferred to ACTION, it was less effective in three other ways.
Firstly, the legislation as it stands does not ensure that the rights of mobility back to the ACT public service are the same as those for other public servants. Although ACTION employees would be entitled to apply for jobs in the ACT public service and be assessed on their merits, some of the detailed arrangements that apply under the public service legislation would not be available to ACTION employees.
Secondly, if an ACTION employees does at some time return to the public service, there is no guarantee that their service with ACTION will be counted in determining some entitlements, such as redundancy payments. This could leave an employee in this situation out of pocket. Thirdly, it is likely that the superannuation arrangements available to existing employees will not be available to new employees if they are not public servants, because of the rules applying to the Commonwealth superannuation schemes that are currently used.
Mr Speaker, I believe and the government believes that ACTION cannot achieve a committed and unified work force if some employees inadvertently lose some of their terms and conditions in this way and if new employees are treated differently from existing employees. The government had a number of options to deal with this situation, including legislation, changing existing industrial agreements, and altering some of the detailed management standards that apply to public servants.
Mr Speaker, the only solution that covered all the identified issues in a comprehensive and effective yet simple way was to make it absolutely clear, in legislation, that ACTION employees were ACT public servants. In other words, they were employed under the Public Sector Management Act. In this way they would enjoy the mobility entitlements, the recognition of service with ACTION, and access to superannuation arrangements on the same basis as other public servants.