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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3996 ..

MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, my supplementary question is also to the Chief Minister. As the Government has recently extended the temporary accommodation payments to four of the seven executives in what we understand are special circumstances, is the Chief Minister aware whether the ATO has commenced an investigation into this matter? Can she inform the Assembly about that?

MS CARNELL: I am not aware of whether the ATO has commenced any action or anything else with regard to this. Taking into account that Mr Corbell did ask a question on a similar issue yesterday, I am able to add more information with regard to the first part of the question, with regard to the extension of terms for public servants. I am able to table for the interest of members a determination made by the Office of Public Administration and Management and the commissioner at the time, Ms Linda Webb. In 1996, on 13 August, she made a determination which was circulated to all managers and personnel, but not to the Minister, because that is not the way it works. In that decision Ms Webb extended the duration of the application of benefits to a maximum of five years, which she is able to do under the Act.

Yesterday Mr Corbell also asked about contributions by public servants to their rental assistance. Ms Webb at the time set a maximum rental assistance for executives with dependants of $400 per week and a maximum rental assistance for executives without dependants of $265 per week.

Under standard 14, chapter 6, instead of setting a contribution, the commissioner set a maximum assistance level. From my briefing after Mr Corbell's question yesterday, I understand that came from the situation in the ACT when these standards first came in. At that time rent may have been $100 per week. The contribution was set at, say, $50 per week and the rest was paid by the officer. It was perceived by Ms Webb obviously better to set a maximum amount, and of course an officer would pay anything in excess of that. She set a maximum amount rather than a contribution amount under this particular direction. That is something I understand the commissioner was totally able to do. I am happy to table this information for the interest of members.

Temporary Accommodation Allowance

MR HARGREAVES: My question is also to the Chief Minister on a similar subject. My understanding is that the Public Service commissioner is responsible to the Chief Minister. My understanding is that it is not appropriate that members of the Opposition approach the Public Service commissioner directly. If something appears to be wrong, I would assume that it is up to the Minister to find out why and advise the Assembly. That is the basis of the question I have. I understand that that great big folder full of papers is in fact a brief. Since there was an article in the Canberra Times on 12 November 1997, two years ago, I am assuming that a brief would have been given to the Chief Minister, and because it was raised the other day I would assume that the Minister had the brief refreshed. Will the Chief Minister report to the Assembly - I rephrase this in the light of your inability to do it on your feet - by close of business today on what basis the rent ceiling for the weekly rates for temporary accommodation allowance were increased by 60 per cent for a person with, but unaccompanied by, dependants, and by 41 per cent for a person without dependants? That goes to that

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