Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 2 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 562 ..
How extraordinary it is to see in the minutes that Mr Hird in fact supported the majority of the recommendations. In fact, he only dissented from the first two recommendations which were that the department in future comply with the consultation protocol and that this compliance be included as a performance measure in contracts of senior executives.
Regarding the issue of consultation, are we really expected to take the Government's argument in the dissenting report regarding consultation seriously? I put it to members of the Assembly and judge for yourselves: This is the Government who spent considerable taxpayers' money on production of a consultation protocol and who continue to pay public servants to implement it. It might be useful for me to remind members of what that protocol says. On page 5, under "Timing of consultation", it says:
It is equally important not to leave consulting until so late in the process that citizens' views cannot influence the outcome.
The argument we get in the dissenting report is that consultation did not occur before the proposal went to the Federal Government because it may not have been successful and that consultation would occur after the proposal was accepted. So, let us get this straight. A proposal goes to the Federal Government. It is accepted. A particular number of participants are to be placed in our schools for a particular price; a contractual relationship is entered into; and then the Government consults with the community, with the stakeholders, with the people who have to work with this proposal.
What if the stakeholders reject it totally? Does the Government seriously believe it can say this is genuine consultation? What happens to the proposal? Is the contract renegotiated? Is there pressure put on the stakeholders to agree because it is a done deal? Why has the Government thought this was an appropriate approach? Did they only approach the Chamber of Commerce before the application went in and not the key stakeholders?
The dissenting report also claims that the report does not acknowledge the government arguments in defence of their consultation or lack of it. This is not correct. If whoever wrote the dissenting report had calmed down and read more carefully, they would have seen that government argument acknowledged on page 14.
The second point in the dissenting report regarding information on the selection process is also curious. The Government is arguing that a request from the committee for them to provide information on selection processes could not have been interpreted by the Government to mean we wanted to see the selection criteria. The selection of participants is obviously an important aspect of this proposal, as I have said, and I would have thought selection criteria used to assess suitability of applicants was pretty basic information in this matter. As I have already pointed out, government evidence given to the committee regarding Centrelink's role in selection processes was contradicted by Centrelink itself. It does once again not inspire confidence, really, in how well they are doing the job.
The third point is a complaint that the committee looked at training as an issue and that it was inappropriate to do so because the work for the dole scheme is not a training scheme. Once again, that is an incredible leap in logic. Let me explain to Mr Hird and the Government. That actually was one of the basic issues. If work for the dole is not