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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 2837 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

Clause 4

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (10.37): I move:

Page 2, lines 13 to 16, paragraph (a), omit the paragraph, substitute the following paragraph:

"(a) by inserting `, or employed under section 28A,' after `section 28' in the definition of `Chief executive' in subsection (1);".

This is the first of a number of amendments which are related. The related amendments, which have also been circulated in my name, are Nos 3, 5, 6, 9 to 30, 32, 35, 37, 39, 41, 42, 44 and 50. This amendment is the first of a group that implements recommendations Nos 1 and 2 of the Public Accounts Committee's report on this legislation.

The underlying issue in this amendment is whether the chief executives of ACT departments should, without exception, have to be on contract. On the general principle, the Australian Labor Party believes that there are good reasons for making such officers permanent employees, consistent with the concept of a career service. That view is reflected in the existing Public Sector Management Act, which was passed when we were in government.

We do accept, however, that governments are entitled to employ those public servants that it appoints on such terms as it chooses. This is an acceptance by the ALP that the Executive - that is, the current government - is entitled to manage the chief executive structure of the public service in what it considers to be the most appropriate way. We do not, however, support the use of legislation to remove existing rights from currently serving officers after there has been a change of government. That is what the current legislation proposes to do.

What the Government is proposing is retrospective legislation at its worst and its most reprehensible. Accordingly, our amendments provide that contracts for chief executives will be an option. Current chief executives will have the option of choosing this method of employment, if that is their preference. Such a proposal is consistent with the approach taken by the Commonwealth and by South Australia when they moved to contract employment.

As I said earlier, the existing legislation gives the Chief Minister absolute control over the tenure of chief executives. The existing section 30 enables the Chief Minister to transfer a chief executive; while subsection 126(1) enables the Chief Minister to terminate the appointment of a chief executive. The Act then allows for a displaced chief executive, after 28 days' notice, to be demoted to a position in the Senior Executive Service or, if they choose, to be retired from the service.

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