Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2771 ..
MR MOORE (10.58): Mr Speaker, I think this report of the Public Accounts Committee is particularly important, and its endorsement of the Auditor-General's stance says a great deal. It is an issue upon which this Assembly has concentrated, I think, since the beginning of self-government. It is interesting to see the view of the Chief Minister in response to it. She is setting out a new model for dealing with performance indicators.
One of the things that have concerned me about the legislation that will come before the Assembly later today, and I have discussed it at length with the Chief Minister's chief executive officer, Mr Walker, is the issue of performance indicators and contracts. If we cannot get performance indicators right, and we have tried again and again, why would we believe that we can get contracts right? I will speak about that later in the appropriate debate. That is one of the issues that I have been discussing with the bureaucracy in this area.
Mr Speaker, it is important for us to get these right. It is important for us to ensure that what is achieved is measured effectively against the task set, and that is what we have failed to do. Of course, there is a real interest in ensuring that we cannot do that easily. It seems to me that, with a number of notable exceptions that various estimates committees have drawn attention to, by and large the bureaucracy have not wanted to have their work measured. The irony is that, the higher we went in the bureaucracy, the worse the performance indicators got. Perhaps because of the consciousness of senior members of the bureaucracy, they needed to be sure that their work could not really be measured. There were many arguments that we heard; for instance, that once you get to the higher levels of the public service it is much harder to give specific measurable performance indicators. I do not believe that that is true.
What we have here, first from the Auditor-General, and then from the Public Accounts Committee, backing up innumerable reports from the estimates committees, is the challenge to say it is time to get these right. The Chief Minister's response has only just been tabled, and I have had a chance only to scan it. It will be interesting for us to assess whether these are achievable or not achievable, whether the system works, and whether we can have an effective contract system throughout the public service which will achieve these measurable outcomes. That is the challenge before the Chief Minister and the Government at the moment, and it is something that I think not only this Assembly and the individual members in it but also the community as a whole will be monitoring.
MS HORODNY (11.01): Mr Speaker, with governments focusing more and more on output funding, obviously the quality of performance indicators will be increasingly important, and the Estimates Committee highlighted this fact. Many of the performance indicators we have now are just not up to scratch. Even worse, the Government seems not to know how to evaluate performance in many areas. The Public Accounts Committee, which I joined part way through this inquiry, did emphasise the importance of qualitative as well as quantitative aspects of agency performances, and this is of great importance to the Greens.