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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 766 ..


Moving to Miss Burch’s comments, I could not agree more with Miss Burch that ACT public servants are diligent and committed and do absolutely fantastic work in the interests of all Canberrans. However, I am concerned about her amendment. I point out to her that, again, she has not approached my office or consulted us about the potential impact of this amendment. She said there are a range of questions that she has not received answers to. But, as far as I am aware, I am the minister with carriage of this bill and she has not approached me or my office to ask any of the questions that she said she had not received answers to. Perhaps she has asked somebody else. Perhaps she has asked the Chief Minister. We cannot find any questions on notice. But if she had approached my office we would certainly have endeavoured to provide as much information as she was interested in. Again, Miss Burch herself did not attend the briefing and, as far as I am aware, her staff did not ask these questions in the briefing.

I note in relation to the impact on staff of this matter that relevant unions have been consulted on the proposed arrangements, which are entirely in line with the current arrangements in the enterprise bargaining agreement, and the unions are supportive of the amendments we are proposing.

In the current Public Sector Management Act, section 246(1) states:

A public servant must repay any amount paid by the Territory to the public servant to which the public servant is not legally entitled.

In the bill before us, the proposed section 246(1) says:

A public servant must repay any amount paid by the Territory to the public servant to which the public servant is not legally entitled.

The proposed section 246(2) that Ms Burch proposes to remove states:

Subsection (1) applies regardless of when the overpayment was made.

It is a clarifying clause that clarifies that the existing clause in the existing act will continue to have effect after this amendment is made. That is required because the new act commences on the day after notification, so the old act becomes redundant. The Attorney-General is nodding. Am I right? Am I correct in my interpretation? I hope so. The proposed 246(2) in my bill makes it clear that the overpayment must be repaid under the current legislation and also must be repaid under the legislation as amended. A debt currently owed will continue to be a debt owed. That is all that that current subclause (2) states.

I am advised that the practical effect of Miss Burch’s amendment would be to effectively remove that existing legislative requirement that a public servant repay amounts to which they are not legally entitled that have accrued prior to the notification of this bill. So Miss Burch’s amendment is to some extent retrospective. In other words, all existing such debts would effectively need to be waived or written off unless public servants voluntarily choose to repay them.


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