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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 2250 ..


Debate resumed from 24 September 1998, on motion by Mr Stefaniak:

That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

MR BERRY (11.22): Mr Speaker, Labor will be opposing many, but not all, of the proposals set out in this Bill. The first issue which is of concern is the provision to delete the executive officer. The executive officer is a person within the department or within the bureaucracy who is charged with the responsibility of carrying out the decisions of the board. The Government's proposal here is to strike that position out and have the chairman of the board responsible for those duties previously carried out by the executive officer. It argues that one of the reasons is that it will reduce the numbers on the board. It will not reduce them by much. There are a large number of people on the board, a dozen or so. It strikes me that there is no argument in support of striking out the executive officer's position on the logic that it would reduce the numbers on the board, because the reduction would be insignificant. An important thing to consider when looking at this matter is the role of the executive officer to carry out the decisions of the board and to give the board more independence in the implementation of its decisions. So clause 5 of the Bill will be opposed by the Labor Party.

Clause 6 of the Bill adopts a curious proposal. It is the Minister's job to appoint all the members of the Board of Senior Secondary Studies, including the chief executive. But clause 6 sets out to allow the chief executive to appoint a representative to attend meetings of the board in her stead. If it is important enough for the Minister to appoint the chief executive, it strikes me that it is important enough for the Minister to appoint delegates of the chief executive or proxies of the chief executive, however they might be described, to ensure that the approach to appointing members to the board is standardised. In my view, the board has to be seen to be separate from the department. That is the way it has been set up.

I will just read through the representatives on the board. One person is appointed after consultation with each of the following bodies: The Canberra Institute of Technology, the Vocational Education and Training Authority, the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the Association of Independent Schools, the Australian Capital Territory branch of the Australian Education Union, the Catholic Education Commission, the Secondary College Principals Association, the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, the Association of Parents and Friends of ACT Schools, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Trades and Labour Council. The Minister appoints the chief executive and the executive officer.

Why would the chief executive be given similar powers to the Minister? I think that is an inappropriate course of action. I cannot see a reasonable explanation for it. It would seem to me that the constant theme is that the Minister appoints people and their delegates, if I can describe them in that way. "Alternates" is the proper title. The Minister appoints the alternates. I cannot see why there should be a change in that approach in respect of the alternate to the chief executive.

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