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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2789 ..

MS TUCKER (12.06): Mr Speaker, the reforms to the public service proposed by this Bill are predicated on virtually no public debate about what the public service in the ACT should look like in the future. As Ms Horodny said on Tuesday in debating the Public Accounts Committee report, there are some good arguments for cultural and administrative changes in the public service. However, the Greens do not support changes which are predicated on paying top executives more, so widening the gap between the rich and the poor in our public sector. We are not saying that everyone should be paid the same, but the Greens do not see the fairness or equity in some people earning over $200,000 while others earn less than $30,000. Mr Speaker, there is a growing gap between the rich and the poor in Australia which reflects trends around the world. There are a number of ways to tackle this problem, some of which are beyond the jurisdiction of the Territory. However, this local Government must not ignore the issue and certainly should not pursue policies which make it worse.

I acknowledge that this flies in the face of the current wisdom which says that you get what you pay for - a pretty depressing view of humanity and society. The Government is lucky that we do not rely on this argument for the community sector, which delivers many essential services on a shoestring or for nothing at all. People in this sector often have responsibility for large sums of money and large numbers of people, yet are volunteers themselves or are paid relatively small salaries. They do not do it for the money alone. Obviously, they do not, if they are not being paid at all. They take these jobs because they are committed to what they are doing. In fact, very few people make decisions on financial factors alone. The Greens believe that very many good people are prepared to work for under $200,000 and that we have the capacity to train local people, make greater use of peer assessment and think of other innovative ways of developing the talent and vision that we need in our public service.

Mr Speaker, the top bureaucrats in the Territory should carry a vision of how we can make the ACT a better, more equitable and cleaner place to live. The system proposed by the Liberals could be seen to be inviting cowboys and cowgirls who are more committed to their hip-pocket than the public good, always ready to move to the next, more lucrative job when it suits them. The other obvious problem is that good people with a commitment to the ACT and its future could feel job security concerns which undermine their capacity to offer fearless advice and long-term planning.

In its current form, this legislation is about privatising and further politicising the bureaucracy and setting up a culture of efficiency rules in the higher echelons of public sector management. I would like to pick up something Mr Moore highlighted this morning - an issue that is also of great concern to the Greens. We have spoken about this in earlier debates. That is: How do we measure performance? We must acknowledge that performance itself is a subjective assessment. One may be very good at delivering services but not so good at finding the efficiencies, or vice versa. Governments on the whole are moving towards a more narrow definition of performance, based on efficiency and outputs rather than outcomes, as Ms Follett described. Mr Moore referred more specifically to the need to get our performance indicators right, and this is true.

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