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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 13 Hansard (Thursday, 27 November 2014) . . Page.. 4147 ..

Public Sector Bill 2014

Ms Gallagher, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Health, Minister for Higher Education and Minister for Regional Development) (10.06): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I present to the Assembly the Public Sector Bill 2014. Central to ensuring Canberra citizens have access to high quality services, from health care and education to making sure households have their garbage bins cleared every week is that we have the very best arrangements for structuring the public sector and for engaging and employing those who deliver services to us.

Although it is given little recognition, the legislation that establishes the public sector and the public service is a vitally important part of the unseen landscape in the ACT. It operates in the background, unobtrusively, but it is through such underpinning arrangements that we in Canberra can rely on efficient and effective systems that result in the delivery of services and ultimately high standards of living. One of our biggest challenges is to make sure that this legislation continues to be relevant and up to date in an ever-changing environment.

The government has for some time considered that the Public Sector Management Act needed updating. This was made clear in 2011, when the Governing the city state: one ACT government—one ACT public service report released by Dr Allan Hawke recommended a complete overhaul of the PSM Act on the basis that it was out of date and did not support a modern public sector. The government took the first steps towards such an overhaul, with amendments being made to the PSM Act in 2011, primarily to facilitate the introduction of the one service model and to establish directorates as well as to establish the role and functions of the head of service.

While the one service model has been successfully introduced, the passage of time since then has made it abundantly clear that the PSM Act remains unable to keep pace with the broader changes in the culture and structure of the public sector. Change is still required to take into account the growth of regulation governing both private and public sector employees. After all, as members would be aware, it is not our own legislation that is the primary source of entitlements for staff but enterprise agreements made under federal legislation.

Consequently, the government is of the view that, in order to properly address the emerging, and in some cases longstanding, issues with the PSM Act, it is not appropriate to simply apply a bandaid approach and make further amendments. Instead, the government has decided that completely new legislation is required. As a result, the Public Sector Bill 2014 being introduced today will repeal and replace the PSM Act.

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