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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (13 February) . . Page.. 70 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

them to perform adequately. They do not need punishing wage reductions to force them to perform within the public service.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I repeat my earlier comments. This approach to a public service is merely an effort to cut the government away from any attachment to the past sins of the Liberals in the ACT and to present a new image. It is an effort to try to blame the public service for what went wrong rather than accept responsibility for it themselves. It is not a new era. It is more of the same from the Liberals-a shifting of the chairs to create the impression that we are really embarking on some new program which will present better quality public service outcomes from the ACT.

This was an unconvincing performance, minister, and I think all experts who examine this proposal will see it as nothing more than an element of public service bashing and a public relations exercise to detach the government from the mistakes of its past.

MRS BURKE (4.25): Mr Berry, I am interested in something that you said. You made no bones about attacking the AWA process. It would seem to me that you are casting doubt on the fact that the Office of the Employment Advocate is not carrying out its role. As you well know, the Office of the Employment Advocate ensures that no-one is disadvantaged, so you have defeated your argument. I am a little bit lost here. No-one is to be exploited and nothing is hidden. Secret wage agreement? I do not think so.

MR QUINLAN (4.26): Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not take much of the Assembly's time. I just want to quote Petronius Arbiter:

We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams we would be reorganised. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganising.

Mr Humphries used some quite saccharine terminology in his introductory remarks, describing the public service as "a great asset for Canberra". However, I have to agree with Mr Berry's assessment that to a large extent the connection, the linking, of Bruce Stadium and what were are learning about Bruce Stadium, to improvements within the public sector does invite at least the casual observer to draw the conclusion that the main problem with the Bruce Stadium was the public service. That is simply not true. I think that the ACT public service, despite the Chief Minister's saccharine introduction, has been done a great disservice by that association.

I just want to make a comment about the Financial Management Act not being understood. For a long time during the Bruce Stadium imbroglio there was reference to section 38 and the immediate past Chief Minister continued to chant the mantra "some public servant forgot to issue guidelines". In fact, the introduction of section 38 into this debate was the loophole found by the government's QC to try to justify or to dampen the impact of what had been done. Section 38 is incorporated in the Financial Management Act for the purpose of short term cash investment. It is just money management. There was an intent in fact to try to stretch that term investment. If the guidelines had been different then maybe in a strictly technical interpretation of the act you might be able to squeeze out of it.

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