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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2822 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

budgeting and reporting across all government agencies, as well as cash flows on an accrual basis. He seeks to reduce red tape. He seeks long-term strategic planning, and a whole range of other admirable and visionary outcomes.

Mr Moore: Very sensible ones.

MRS CARNELL: I would agree. The reality is that the performance contract system proposed by this Government is all about delivering exactly that range of quantitative and qualitative outcomes that Mr Moore's own policy speaks about. A more focused and performance orientated public service is the only way the Government can achieve the outcomes that not only we as the Government want but also that this Assembly wants, and that the people of Canberra want.

The Greens purport to be acting in the interests of a cleaner and healthier Canberra. How can they sit there, then, and oppose legislation that will help us to get there? The status quo certainly will not. They are concerned about the lack of focus on performance and too much emphasis on the bottom line. Surely contracts with service targets will enhance performance? It is an obvious way for us to get to those ends that the Greens rightly support.

Mr Connolly made some comments about ministerial responsibility. I alert Mr Connolly again to section 29 of the Act, which is not changing and which reflects ministerial responsibility by saying that a chief executive shall be responsible, under the relevant Minister, for the administration and business of his or her department. That says it very succinctly, and that area is not changing. Certainly, responsibility is still there.

Ms Tucker made the comment that somehow there had not been public debate on this issue. Debate cannot be endless. We have gone out and spoken to SES officers. Our policies were very clear before the election. Newspaper articles and so on have made it very clear what our approach to this issue would be. We have made sure that, in the discussions we have had with SES officers, we have addressed the problems they raised, and there were a few, and they are in this legislation. So consultation has occurred with the people who are involved in this, and it has occurred at length, and I stress that. A representative committee was elected by the SES officers to be part of the drafting of this whole approach. In fact, it really is a piece of legislation that those SES officers have had input into the whole way through.

The bottom line of this piece of legislation for the people of Canberra is that it is about accountability. It is about ensuring that our senior managers are in a position of having to perform and knowing what it is they are expected to achieve, knowing very definitely, in contract terms, exactly what Ministers expect or what chief executives or agency heads expect, and having the outcomes of those contracts recorded in annual reports. How much more public and accountable can you be than that? The reality is that those opposite are now opposing the Bill simply because we put it up, in my view.

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