Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 10 Hansard (13 October) . . Page.. 3093 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
have done. The leadership that the ACT as a whole has shown in the area of the environment for the last few years, the awards it has won in a number of areas, are reflection at least in part of the work of Dr Colin Adrian.
This particular Bill, inconsistent as one of its supporters has indicated it is with respect to the qualifications of others in other areas of the Government, is capable of being described as a piece of legislation targeting a particular individual quite unfairly. Let us go to other officers in this government service who have no particular qualifications: The Office of the Community Advocate - a very important body providing a very important role within the community and in respect of advising government. You might imagine that it should have qualifications of that office-holder with respect to social welfare, or provision of community services, whatever you would like to call it. There are no qualifications referred to in the Community Advocate's Act with respect to any of those things. For the Public Trustee of the ACT - a very technical role with respect to a number of things, including offering advice to government - there is no requirement for qualifications of any particular sort.
The only logical position that Ms Tucker and Mr Corbell can take in this matter is that, if we are going to put a qualification on who holds the office of Conservator of Flora and Fauna, we have got to follow it up with a whole series of other qualifications being inserted all over the Public Service's similar jobs. There really is no distinction between this job and the others we are talking about here.
If they do that, that is fine. They will be consistent at least in debates like this. But we will lose, necessarily, the skills of a large number of very good people whose expertise may not relate directly in a formal academic sense to particular areas, but who have eminent capacity to discharge duties of that kind with distinction to the people of the ACT. That would be a great pity. We choose Public Service executives in the ACT Government on the basis of merit and they win their jobs on the basis of merit under the Public Sector Management Act.
Dr Adrian has done so in respect of his job. We are committed to the view that merit should be a supremely important principle with respect to the filling of positions. To impose qualifications which are not directly relevant and required, are not necessary for particular jobs to be discharged, necessarily means that some people who may have high merit for those jobs are excluded from consideration, and others with less merit may be able to then take that position. That would be a bad outcome for the ACT, I would submit. I ask members to consider seriously rejecting this Bill.
MR RUGENDYKE (4.27): At first glance it would appear that this is a half-sensible piece of legislation from the Greens. However, when I am provided with rather vitriolic attacks on the current incumbent, reports which appear to be the genesis of this legislation, it is apparent that this is nothing more than a blatant attack on one of our senior public servants. To allow this legislation to pass would set an unfortunate precedent. Where every time a member in this place has a gripe with one of our statutory office-holders to bring a remedy such as this is totally out of order. I reject it outright. I will not be supporting this piece of legislation.