Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2819 ..
MRS CARNELL (continuing):
However, the fact is that the States I have mentioned, like the ACT, have their primary role in service delivery and local and regional issues. Much as Ms Follett in her speech argued that somehow this was not the case, the reality is that in the ACT we are about services, not about ethereal policy, as can sometimes be the case in the Commonwealth. Those States have recognised in their senior executive employment policies the eventual need for performance contracts in ensuring successful outcomes. The former head of the New South Wales Premier's Department, Dick Humphry, said recently that, in his experience, significant benefits were to be gained for the effectiveness and efficiency of public administration by continuing the move by Australian governments to performance-based employment of senior public service executives. Mr Humphry is not somebody who you could suggest does not know anything about the public sector. Mr Humphry also said that, in his experience formerly as head of the Premier's Department in New South Wales and Auditor-General in Victoria and now as managing director of the Australian Stock Exchange, there was no alternative but to continue the transition from lifetime tenure for senior public service executives to true performance-based employment.
You can rest assured that we will spell out in the contract the basic requirement for each position, for example, the particular services that will be required to maintain a city amenity or to ensure that park areas are suitably maintained. The contract will also contain the basic standards of service - for example, the number of garbage collections, the quality of certain services provided.
Unfortunately, the PAC did not consult with public service leaders in the other States. To some extent, the debate on this issue has been derailed by a political agenda with a very narrow focus on the senior executive group. The important point, which has been overlooked in the public comment and the PAC report but which was clearly covered in the Government's presentation to the Public Accounts Committee, is that the changes are really about building a performance management culture across the whole of the public service, and beginning this process at the top. This is why each agency will be required to have a performance management plan, to be accredited by the Chief Minister's Department, which will ensure that senior executive performance agreement targets are, in effect, filtered down through the respective agencies. As part of this initiative, all of our people will have the benefit of clear and unambiguous job descriptions and targets. They will all know how their jobs contribute to the delivery of services and what their particular contribution will be to a better Canberra. This empowerment must surely be seen by this Assembly as a positive move.
Mr Speaker, I know that there has been some concern about the question of incompatibility. Let me say clearly now that these proposals are an attempt at recognising in a mature and open way that there are occasionally circumstances where relationships between employers and employees irrevocably break down. We must deal with this in an open and honest way through a recognition that a contract could be terminated for reasons of breakdown in that relationship. The potential for such breakdown is unfortunately a fact of life. It has happened in this Assembly; it has happened in the ACT government since self-government, I suspect, on more than one occasion. Should the Assembly decide not to support this open and innovative approach, such occurrences will still take place. I assume, human nature being what it is, that inevitably these things will happen. How we deal with it is the issue here.