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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1837 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

I would like now to explain the new model of contract-based employment introduced by this Bill. In doing so, it is important to make reference not only to the Bill itself but also to the relevant administrative arrangements that will support the Bill once it becomes law. The new contract employment arrangements will provide for terms of up to five years. The contract will spell out exactly what the chief executive's or executive's job is and the level of performance that he or she is expected to achieve during the term of the contract. All contracts will provide for the specific requirements of each position. Each contract will also include certain core requirements covering significant whole-of-government issues. These core requirements will include management of workers compensation cases, application of EEO principles, commitment to training, appreciation of financial reform requirements, and commitment to the implementation of the customer commitment program.

The contract will include clear sanctions for non-performance. The need for sanctions as well as rewards has been clearly recognised in all States over the last few years. As a result, early termination of employment will be provided for on grounds in the contract that include misconduct and poor performance. This is an essential element of a performance-based employment model and will lead to those at the top having a much greater consciousness of personal performance and accountability. Executives will be treated fairly and equitably under these new arrangements and will have access to an informal grievance mechanism. This will be in addition to the full range of legal remedies available in the courts. What they will not have is the kind of detailed statutory grievance and review processes we have at present but which are not appropriate for staff at this level.

Mr Speaker, under the current arrangements it can be difficult to retire a non-performing executive, and even when this can be done the process can grind on for months and even years, consuming grossly disproportionate resources. We believe in fairness and equity, but these principles must be balanced against the equally important principle that all employees, and executives in particular, should achieve agreed objectives linked to agency business plans and be accountable if they do not achieve them. If public service executives fail to perform, it is essential that they do not become a burden on the ACT taxpayer. They should cease being taxpayer-funded executives and seek some other form of employment. I do not believe that this imperative to perform will in any way affect the quality of advice forthcoming from the executive group.

Under the new employment arrangements there will be some recompense for the loss of tenure. In addition, the Government believes that the remuneration of chief executives and executives should be set by an independent ACT remuneration tribunal and will be bringing forward a separate Bill to provide for this. The new employment contracts will provide for performance bonuses to those performing at exceptionally high levels. I am not talking about the previous bonus arrangements under which virtually all SES officers received a payment. I am talking about genuine bonuses which are paid for outstanding performance only. Apart from remuneration, executives will benefit through a new and comprehensive executive development program and enhanced mobility opportunities within the ACT public service executive group.

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