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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2172 ..

MR STANHOPE: It is reprehensible that public servants are writing to members of the community attributing to the Labor Party views about legislation that are simply not true. It is a serious matter.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The member's time has expired.

MR CORBELL (3.48): Mr Speaker, I think the Chief Minister should explain to the Assembly the issues just outlined by Mr Stanhope. Quite clearly, a public servant has written to someone in the private sector alleging a course of action by the Opposition which simply is untrue. I think the Chief Minister should give this Assembly an explanation.

In speaking to the Chief Minister's Department appropriation, I want to raise a couple of issues. The first relates to the payment of the ACT Senior Executive Service. I do not mean the Executive, the Government. I realise that is a separate appropriation. I want to refer to SES officers in the ACT Public Service. My office, and indeed Mr Berry's office, made some inquiries during the Estimates Committee process relating to the cost of the ACT Senior Executive Service. We were particularly interested in comments by the Government back in 1996. At that time the Government made some fairly fundamental changes to the structure of the Senior Executive Service in the ACT Public Service. The Canberra Times of Wednesday, 3 January 1996, said:

Thirty of the 110 jobs reviewed in the Senior Executive Service are expected to go in the reshuffle, which the Government says will save $1 million a year.

We were interested to test the accuracy of the Government's claim. I put a question on notice, and I was provided with an answer. I would just like to go through what this revealed. In June 1995 there were 123 SES and equivalent level officers in the ACT Public Service. The Chief Minister's Department estimated the total cost for payment of those 123 SES officers to be $7,645,000 a year. When the Government implemented changes to the Senior Executive Service, this figure changed. By June 1997, 84 out of 90 SES officers and equivalents were on the new executive contract arrangements. By May 1999, there were 84 Senior Executive Service and equivalent officers, a reduction of 39 executives - from 123 to 84. But what is the cost of the new Executive Service? Members may well ask, seeing that we are meant to be saving $1m a year. The cost now is $9.141m. In June 1995 the cost was $7.6m. In May 1999 it was $9.1m, even though we had reduced the number of executives by 39.

The Government made a claim three years ago that it was going to save $1m a year through a reduction in the numbers in the Senior Executive Service. Mr Speaker, that claim is just patently wrong. One of the key justifications for the Government's decision to revise the Senior Executive Service has just gone out the window in a fundamental way. It now costs the ACT community $1.4m a year more than it did when we had 39 more Senior Executive level officers. I know that the Chief Minister makes much about the financial credibility of her Government and its much vaunted financial management style, but it is not showing up in these figures. The SES is costing us more than it did three years ago, even though the number of positions has

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