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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (19 October) . . Page.. 1841 ..

MR KAINE (10.52): I hope that the Assembly will indulge me this morning. My voice is not so good. This is a subject on which I feel compelled to speak. Mr Speaker, I oppose this motion on the basis that we have an executive government, the Chief Minister of which was elected by this Assembly to get on with the business of governing this Territory. There are some things about which a government can be expected to consult. But the way it goes about administering the Territory is so fundamental to government that I do not believe that any amount of consultation with the community can or should affect the way the government goes about setting those arrangements in place. I think it would be an abdication of responsibility for the Chief Minister to say, "We will let the public determine what our public service is going to look like". We would be wrong to allow this Government to be diverted from its primary responsibility and its role.

The ACT Government Service was set up by the Follett Government in the image that they thought was proper. Many of us did not agree with what was set up at the time. I was quite critical of a number of aspects of the way in which the ACT Government Service was set up. First of all, there was no prior definition of the functions that the organisation was to perform. We simply renamed what we had, with all of its inefficiencies. Many of those inefficiencies remain to this day. The then Chief Minister was determined that all public servants, whether in statutory authorities or otherwise, would be brought under the umbrella of the Public Service Management Act. I did not agree with that either. But I did believe that the Government was entitled to govern. The former Chief Minister often says that the Government is entitled to govern. The former Chief Minister was entitled at the end of the day to set up a public service that she thought was appropriate. The government has changed, and some of us think that what was set up is not appropriate and needs to be further changed. One of the things that still need to be done is to define the functions that that organisation is supposed to perform, create the organisational entities which will perform them, and set up proper arrangements for the executives of those organisations to be fully responsible and accountable to this Assembly and to the public. This is what the Bill that the Chief Minister has now put before the Assembly sets out to do.

The Leader of the Opposition seems to imply that setting these new arrangements in place somehow questions the calibre, the competence and the qualifications of our senior public servants. That is absolutely rubbish. The Bill makes it clear that the senior executives in this new organisation will be there because of merit. Ms Follett makes the point that these officers have done a good job for six years under self-government. There is no suggestion that they are not going to continue to do it. The processes that will provide for all positions to be spilt and for the officers to be reappointed to the new positions that are created in no way question the calibre, the competence or the ability of these officers to continue to do what they have done very well in serving the community since self-government.

The Leader of the Opposition says that we need time to examine this Bill. Referring it to a committee is not going to make any more time. The Bill is now before the Assembly. The Leader of the Opposition can go away and spend the next three weeks examining it to her heart's content. How does she believe that having an inquiry by the Public Accounts Committee is going to advance her knowledge of what it says and what

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