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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 8 Hansard (29 October) . . Page.. 2414 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

The Government is committed to continuing to provide flexibility to members beyond those arrangements. As foreshadowed in the Chief Minister's letter to MLAs on 5 May 1997, steps would be taken to give members additional flexibility by providing the capacity for the engagement of consultants and contractors to assist them to deal with matters which are necessarily incidental to members' parliamentary duties. This Bill delivers that commitment.

This does not mean that the Government has opened the purse strings further. There is still the clear expectation that members will manage within the overall staff salary allocations provided to them, but if they wish to spend some of the allocation provided for staff salary on consultants or contractors then that is for members to decide. The Bill introduces a new Part IIIB to the LA(MS) Act which will, in Division 1, enable office-holders to engage consultants and contractors, while Division 2 will enable members to engage consultants and contractors.

As I mentioned earlier, the scope of these engagements will be limited to the provision of services necessary for and incidental to the performance of parliamentary duties. As well as providing for the engagement of consultants and contractors, the Bill also provides termination arrangements along similar lines to those existing in the Act for staff of office-holders and members.

The substantial difference in the arrangements for employing staff and arrangements for engaging consultants and contractors is that there is a limit on the length of engagement of a consultant or contractor to three years for each agreement. There are automatic termination provisions if the office-holder or member ceases to be an office-holder or member, but the Chief Minister may also decide to continue the engagement up to the maximum three-year period if the continuation of the work of the consultant or contractor is considered to be in the best interests of the Territory. Where a decision for continuation is made, then the Chief Minister is able to terminate the continued engagement.

Mr Speaker, this Bill is a further example of the Government's commitment to the principle of allowing members and their staff or consultants the flexibility to choose employment arrangements which best suit their own particular requirements. It also reflects this Government's belief that the best arrangements are those decided by the parties between themselves at the workplace - not those imposed from outside by some distant trade union or tribunal. Mr Speaker, I commend this Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stanhope) adjourned.

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