Page 1106 - Week 04 - Thursday, 21 April 1994

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The ACT public service has served Canberra well in the transition to self-government. The new service established by this Bill will be the vehicle for the Territory's public servants to continue into the next century the excellent service they have given this community over many years.

Let me provide the background of this legislation. In April 1992, the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, wrote to me proposing that the Commonwealth and the Territory commence moves towards establishing a separate ACT public service. His intention was to end the transitional arrangements included in the Commonwealth's 1988 self-government legislation. I was happy to commence the action suggested by the Prime Minister once agreement was reached on several threshold issues, the most vital of which was permanent mobility between the two services. When the Prime Minister acceded to my requests in December 1992, the formal process to create Australia's newest and possibly last public service began. That was only 16 months ago.

The Commonwealth's self-government legislation requires both governments to consult with unions and, by implication, with each other on this exercise. So, when Mr Berry, as Minister for Industrial Relations, met last year with his Commonwealth counterpart and union representatives we tabled 20 draft resolutions, or 20 points, as they have become known. A draft of the 20 points was included in the Government's submission to the Assembly Select Committee on the Establishment of an ACT Public Service last year. These points deal with the continued mobility and other links between the two public services and provide for Territory access to Commonwealth services, the most important of which are Commonwealth superannuation schemes and Comcare, the Commonwealth workers compensation scheme. These negotiations are continuing, even though agreement on the vast majority of the points was reached quite some time ago.

The outstanding issues are few but they are important. They relate to the way in which we give effect to the permanent model of mobility on merit that the Prime Minister and I agreed in 1992. The resolution of these issues may require some later amendment of this Bill. We shall introduce any Government amendments when debate on the Bill resumes, and we undertake to circulate these in advance, if that is possible.

I am conscious that the Select Committee on the Establishment of an ACT Public Service has yet to present its report and is required to do so before the resumption of debate on this Bill. The Government has been happy to assist the committee wherever possible. I provided an earlier draft of this Bill to assist the committee in its deliberations and I have made officers of my department available for briefings. These steps are a reflection of the Government's commitment to the committee's work. The committee clearly will want to study the final Bill very carefully. I look forward to its contribution to this debate.

I would like to reassure ACT Government employees and their union representatives that we shall not commence the new service until the Government is satisfied that the mobility model is a good one. Mobility was a vital threshold issue and, having obtained the Prime Minister's agreement to permanent mobility on merit, I am not about to let it be taken away because of problems in resolving a few relatively minor points. I would like to say also that I am disappointed with the lukewarm commitment of others in the

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