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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (31 August) . . Page.. 2663 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

That is a disallowable instrument. This legislation sets out to shift that direct responsibility from the Chief Minister to the Public Service commissioner on a once-only basis. Proposed new subsection (7) of section 251 says:

An approval by the Chief Minister under subsection (1) may be given in respect of all management standards to be made for a specified purpose.

That would be disallowable, as I understand it. I will oppose that clause when we get to it in the detail stage. Management of the public sector in the Australian Capital Territory is an extremely important issue where the Government has to be accountable. Changes to public sector management standards ought not to be deferred to the Public Service commissioner. At the end of the day the Assembly can be accused of going after the Public Service commissioner for these changes to the public sector management standards rather than dealing with the decision-maker, which in the current legislation would be the Chief Minister. If there are changes to the public sector management standards, it is more appropriate to deal with them in the normal political process in this Assembly rather than be accused of attacking the Public Service commissioner because the authority has been given to the commissioner by the Chief Minister. I think that is a bit of a diversion that we need not and should not support.

It strikes me that the Chief Minister should take responsibility for this, because it only happens on very few occasions. In the briefings that I had in relation to this matter, my recollection is that it was described as rare. To make it out as an important issue in the scheme of management of the Public Sector Management Act is overstating it a bit. It strikes me that the Chief Minister ought to be answerable to this Assembly on management standards rather than flick-pass the responsibility to the Public Service commissioner, in which case you can bet that if we attempted to overthrow a public sector management standard by way of disallowance we would be accused of going after public servants again. I am not interested in that. I would rather deal with the matter in the context of the decision-maker. We know that the decision-maker would make the decision anyway, but the responsibility for it would be flicked to the Public Service commissioner. It is a rare matter, so it is not something that would come to this place on a regular basis.

I raised a few other matters in the course of the debate. They were merely technical and went to what seemed to be oversights and inconsistencies in the legislation. The Chief Minister has written to me. If I could just get her attention for a moment, I would like to know how she plans to deal with those other oversights, mistakes or whatever in the legislation and whether there is in fact a need to deal with them or not. It strikes me that it is the Government's job, not the Opposition's job, to get drafting instructions to sort out little typos or oversights in legislation. I would like to hear from the Chief Minister on the few issues I raised when I last spoke on this matter.

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