Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2793 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
I do not believe that in the 1990s and going into the twentieth century we or anybody else can adopt that attitude. We have to recognise that the world around us is changing. Some great innovations are being implemented. We, as the managers of this Territory, have to make sure that we are at the forefront of that kind of change. If it is beneficial change, then we should implement it. We should adopt it, not close our minds and say, "No, we will not even contemplate that, because that is not what we did yesterday or last week or last year". Mr Speaker, I think that the concepts inherent in this Bill are the right ones. It sets the climate for change which I think is beneficial change, and I support it.
MR MOORE (12.21): Mr Speaker, I rise to support this legislation in principle. Some of the issues that are fundamental to the way that I believe we should be operating have to do with the way I see parliament delegating responsibility to the executive service. When Rosemary Follett as Chief Minister introduced the Public Sector Management Bill, I supported that Bill in principle, although I sought some modifications to it. Exactly the same situation applies now that Kate Carnell as Chief Minister wishes to deal with her public service in specific ways. If I believe that the long-term impact on the public service will be negative, I will either support amendments or move my own amendments. But the general concept is that, while she is in charge of that role that we have delegated, she has the ability to carry out those changes.
Earlier today - and Ms Tucker has referred to this - I talked about performance indicators and how the concept can be transferred into contracts. Mr Speaker, that was the basis of a discussion that I had about the openness of contracts with a couple of the senior public servants Mrs Carnell made available to brief me. The issue is that, if we have completely open contracts, then the public interest is served and the advantages are quite clear. That is where I am inclined to go. On the other hand, the downside is that, if you have completely open contracts, then they may well go the way of performance indicators to ensure that nobody is caught out by a very tight performance indicator that allows people to say publicly in a political context, "Why has this person not been fired? Why has this person not achieved this?". If they are used in that way, then what will happen is what happens with performance indicators. They will tend to be written in a very soft way, a way that ensures that there are no hooks which would enable political opponents of the government, including people like me, to say, "This is what it is about".
In those discussions I think there is a halfway measure that needs to be considered. It applies to members of this Assembly; it applies to the Executive. We can make declarations of interest. Those declarations of interest can be held, in our case by the Clerk, and can be examined if there is an appropriate reason to examine them. One situation occurs to me. Let us say a senior officer or an officer on contract is the subject of scrutiny for a report, such as the Stein report. It would be appropriate then for us to say, "Was that examination really about the individual officer, was the individual officer carrying out their contract or was the contract in fact the problem?". I think that would be a valid reason for wanting to know what was in the contract. In such a case I think it ought to be made available. I will be interested to see what amendment the Government can make to achieve openness in contracts. I think there is a good argument either way. There are two quite interesting principles of efficiency and accountability that are effectively in conflict on how this should be dealt with. I think that is an issue that needs to be dealt with appropriately.