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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3621 ..

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Serious matters can be referred to the police or raised as complaints of discrimination. However there are cases where management action is appropriate and justified. Or, in some cases, the matter may not be sufficiently serious to receive police priority, but too serious to ignore in a work place context. In those circumstances, the employer may be subject to civil liability or complaints of discrimination, but unable to take appropriate disciplinary action.

Legal advice suggests that the formulation of section 9 should be widened to overcome these difficulties without departing from the basic principle that disciplinary action should take place only where there is some nexus with duty or the work place.

The proposed amendments to section 9 will place beyond doubt that public employees acting improperly will be covered by the disciplinary provisions of the Act. These provisions will now encompass circumstances where improper conduct is connected with or is incidental to their employment or where improper conduct can damage the reputation of the ACT Public Service.

Clauses 7 and 8 of the Bill will make it clear that Chief Executives must seek the prior written consent of the Commissioner for Public

Administration before re-engaging or re-appointing, during the benefit period, any former Chief Executives or SES officers who retired after the commencement of the Public Sector Management (Amendment) Act 1995. This places former Chief Executives and SES officers on the same footing as other public employees who received a severance benefit on retiring from the Service.

Clause 9 of the Bill corrects an error in the Act which led to Territory instrumentalities from being unintentionally excluded from the provisions of the Merit Protection (Australian Government Employees) Act 1984 (Cwt). This clause of the Bill will provide for retrospective application to 1 July 1994 to enable the affected employees to have confidence in any actions and decisions made since that date by the Merit Protection and Review Agency.

Clause 10 of the Bill will enable the Chief Minister to delegate to the Commissioner for Public Administration the power to make certain types of changes to the Public Sector Management Standards. This will be limited in scope to technical changes, such as correcting errors or removing redundant provisions, and will enable us to streamline the process of maintaining the Standards. These Standards would continue to be tabled in the Assembly and be disallowable.

Mr Speaker I commend this Bill to the Assembly and present the Explanatory Memorandum for the Bill.

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