Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 2930 ..
MS FOLLETT (continuing):
The report, I hope, will do much to clear the air on many of the concerns that have developed within the general community about calls for voluntary contributions and subject levies and also, I hope, dispel some of the myths about the use of the funds raised. Mr Speaker, I believe that the release of the report is timely as schools now prepare for a new school year. I again thank my colleagues and our committee secretary for the work done in producing this report, and I commend it to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Ms Horodny) adjourned.
MR CONNOLLY (5.48): Mr Speaker, the amendment that is before the house is a basic amendment about providing information on the public record about the terms and conditions on which our most senior public servants are employed. We have been waiting in vain for some argument from the Government as to why this information should not be made public. They seem not even to try to mount a defence about salaries and entitlements - that is, dollar sums. They have not even tried to defend keeping that secret, but they have tried to say that, if the objective performance criteria against which these executives are to be judged are made public, somehow that will politicise the public service. That is an absurd argument. Indeed, it is a reversal of the facts. If the performance criteria are not made public, I can assure you that they will be the first thing that most estimates committees will be seeking. It would make absolutely no sense for an estimates committee to go through the process of looking at the performance criteria for the agency without knowing what the criteria are for the agency head. It is an absurdity.
Mr Speaker, this is a Greens amendment, but if the Independents are thinking of not supporting it I ask them to consider this: The greatest harm to the public service could be done if this information is to remain confidential. There is no doubt that in the public service rumour mill and the political rumour mill of this town all sorts of stories are circulating already about special deals and secret deals done for persons who have come to these positions - the head of administration, in particular - or persons who may come, and that is a very damaging thing for public confidence in the wellbeing of administration in this town. There are stories floating around about extraordinarily generous housing assistance deals being done on the side. Those sorts of stories will flourish and do great harm to public administration in this city unless this information is public.
Mr Speaker, as I say, the Government has not even attempted to give a justification as to why financial aspects of the total package should be made secret. I would be interested to hear a justification, if it could be mounted. I want to say very clearly to those Independent members thinking about this - - -