Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 March 2018) . . Page.. 768 ..
amendments as they stand have the potential to cause hardship to both current and former ACT public servants. It is clear from the minister’s statement that good governance is not going to prevail here today and that this is simply another cash grab by the Labor-Greens government.
This is not a question of good economic management. If that were the case, you would not be making such errors in the first place. This is instead a case of the government extending rights and powers to itself well beyond those extended to other employers. ACT public servants have the right to be confident that their pay is correct and accurate at the time that they receive it.
It is a basic responsibility of government to ensure that public servants are paid fairly and accurately. The fact that this sloppy government has put this legislation forward tells us that it cannot get even this basic function right. It is not good enough for the Labor-Greens government to go back to public servants years later to tell them that they have got a huge bill to pay back, all because of government stuff-ups.
Fairness is a word all too often brandished by those opposite. This bill in its current form is by no means fair. How is it fair to impose a repayment plan on public servants who have relied in good faith on the payments they have received accurately reflecting their entitlements? How is it fair that the government is to paper over its own failures of accountability by garnishing public servants’ wages? How is it fair for the government to attack hardworking public servants to cover the government’s own incompetence? And how is it fair for the government to extend rights and powers to itself well beyond those extended to other employers?
This is a lazy and incompetent government that cannot even fulfil its most basic payroll functions as an employer. It is a desperate government, scrambling to dig every penny it can out of the couch cushions to finance whatever is the latest in the long line of the Chief Minister’s personal vanity projects. If this was an exercise in good governance, those opposite would be supporting my amendment today.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (5.20): That was an extraordinary overreach of a speech, but I am impressed that Miss Burch was able to deliver it with a straight face. She did all this stuff about it being not fair, but I think it is equally not fair to let the rest of Canberra’s taxpayers cop the bill. If there has been an administrative error, I think it is quite fair and appropriate that it be recouped in a fair and reasonable way. As I stressed in my opening remarks, this bill sets out a number of explicit details. It ultimately give the Head of Service a discretion as to how this bill operates in light of the personal circumstances of the individual.
The Greens will not be supporting Miss Burch’s amendments because I think the system has been set up to be as fair as possible for people in circumstances where a mistake has been made. It is not ideal that those mistakes get made, but they do happen, and it is right to have an appropriate and transparent system for recouping that. It is worth noting that this is not about people who have left the public service. I think it is important to spell that out. If someone is no longer an ACT public servant, this legislation cannot apply to them.