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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3089 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

are advertising or creating a position, we expect certain things. When we employ architects in PALM, we get people with architectural qualifications. If we need planners, we get people with planning qualifications. When we are dealing with people in the Public Service wanting to deal with computer technology, we get people in with a level of qualification and expertise to do that job for us.

Mr Humphries raises the issue of the Commissioner for the Environment. The point he is trying to make is there is no mandatory level of qualification for that position. But look at whom we have appointed. We have appointed an individual with eminent qualifications in a range of areas directly relating to the role we ask him to undertake. We have appointed the person on that basis. The difficulty we have had with this Government's approach to the Conservator of Flora and Fauna is that the person appointed does not have relevant qualifications in that type of area.

The same complaint could be raised with regard to the Commissioner for the Environment if the Government had appointed an accountant to be the Commissioner for the Environment. That would be a completely inappropriate approach. If Mr Humphries is looking for consistency, I am quite happy to indicate now that we would consider some form of mandatory qualification for the Commissioner for the Environment, if that is going to be his argument later in the debate.

But the Commissioner for the Environment is a suitably qualified individual, eminently qualified, nationally and internationally recognised, with the expertise we expect the Commissioner for the Environment to have to work, investigate and report. Let us deal straight away with that furphy of an argument, if that is what we are going to hear from the Government. What we are asking in this amendment, and what Labor is prepared to do in supporting Ms Tucker's amendment today, is that office-holders in statutory positions should have some level of qualification. We ask for the DPP to be a lawyer; we ask that the Chief Health Officer must be a doctor. Why not with another statutory position, where they are required to exercise expert professional opinion on conservation issues, ask it of the officer with that statutory responsibility? Otherwise, we could save ourselves a lot of money and simply have doctors advising a Chief Health Officer who was not a doctor; and lawyers advising the DPP who was not a lawyer.

But that is not the approach we are taking. That is not the approach we take in other areas. Let us accord the same weight of responsibility, status and, most importantly, qualification to the position of Conservator of Flora and Fauna as we do to those other positions. The Labor Opposition will be supporting this Bill.

MR KAINE (4.12): I am not persuaded by Mr Corbell's rhetoric on this matter. I do not support this proposal because it is becoming too specific about what a person should be and what qualifications they should have before they are offered a Public Service job. There are many jobs in the Public Service where the possession of some professional qualification might be an advantage, but we do not make it a part of the prescription for the job that they must be so qualified. By making the terms of reference of some of these jobs too prescriptive, you can exclude some very good people who do not happen to comply with that very narrow statement of qualification. In this case, the requirement is that a person be qualified at a university and also have extensive experience in the position.

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