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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3090 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

There may be people who would be acceptable to the government of the day, or there may not be. I do not believe that for normal Public Service appointments this degree of expertise and professionalism need necessarily be specified. I think it will preclude some very good people who simply do not have the qualifications we are setting up here and yet who, by their background and their experience, more than qualify to do the job of the position that we are seeking to fill. If we accept this recipe for this job, then we must review a very large number of senior jobs in the ACT Public Service and make similar specifications. I do not agree with that approach and I do not agree with it in this case, either, and I will not support Ms Tucker's Bill.

MR HUMPHRIES (Treasurer, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Community Safety) (4.14): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, I do not often find myself in this position these days, but I agree entirely with the comments just made by Mr Kaine. I simply adopt them as the view that I would express in this matter, with respect to the employment of public servants. Mr Corbell and Ms Tucker have failed to distinguish between officers who have a role with respect to the discharge of certain functions of a technical nature, and officers who are, essentially by nature, public servants who have requirements to offer the Government advice under statute, but who are also fulfilling other roles within the context of the Public Service.

To go back to the first of those categories, Mr Corbell cited the example of the Director of Public Prosecutions. "Oh, he has to be a lawyer. Why shouldn't the conservator have to be a person with qualifications in nature conservation?". Well, the answer is very simple. The Director of Public Prosecutions has a statutory obligation to make representations to courts in the Territory and only - - -

Mr Corbell: The conservator has statutory obligations too.

MR HUMPHRIES: It is not to make representations to courts in the Territory and only a lawyer, a person suitably qualified, is able to make representations to the court without leave. So he has to be a lawyer to be able to discharge the duties of his office by virtue of the nature of our court system and the requirement that lawyers need to be suitably qualified and admitted as barristers and solicitors to be able to come into the courts and to perform certain functions without the leave of the court. Similarly, I imagine that the role of the Chief Health Officer carries with it certain obligations with respect to the examination of material - perhaps even examination of people in certain circumstances to ascertain certain matters of a medical nature. Therefore it is appropriate and quite proper for the Chief Health Officer to have to be a medical practitioner.

But, Mr Speaker, there are a other examples within the Public Service that are included within the Public Service proper and within the category of statutory office-holders, where requirements for the holding of certain qualifications do not exist. I think Mr Corbell and Ms Tucker would have great difficulty in trying to explain why some of those have that requirement and some do not. For example, as I have already cited, the Commissioner for the Environment himself has no requirement for a qualification of the kind that Ms Tucker is inserting into this legislation.

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