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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 97 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

Of course, the public service of the 1950s and 1960s had its shortcomings, but nothing like the systematic incompetence which was uncovered by the coroner and the Auditor-General in the last two years. I would ask members to examine this second extract at length. However, it is on the final sentence that I would like to focus. Let me read it again:

If changes to the career service do not function as intended, then all that will have happened is that one insulated self-perpetuating elite will have been exchanged for another.

In light of events in the past five years in the ACT, and in looking around the country, I could not agree more.

Before I cover the contents of the bill in some detail, I would ask members to consider this final comment from one of Britain's most able Labour ministers, Herbert Morrison. Compare his description of an effective bureaucracy with the "can do" system provided by our current executive contract structure. Morrison said:

Civil servants take enormous pains to give a minister all the facts and to warn him against pitfalls. If they think the policy he contemplates is wrong they will tell him why, but always on the basis that it is for him to settle the matter. And if the Minister, as is sometimes the case, has neither the courage nor the brains to evolve a policy of his own, they will do their best to find him one, for, after all, it is better that a department should be run by civil servants than it should not be run at all.

It was my task ... to change the policy which had so far been pursued by the Ministry of Transport. We argued it all out; we examined all the 'snags' which the civil servants found for me and which I found for myself in plenty; but at the end of the discussions, when I made it clear what the policy was to be, the civil servants not only gave their best to make my policy a success, but nearly worked themselves to death in labours behind the scenes in the conduct of various secondary negotiations. Responsibility for policy rests upon Ministers whether they are weak or strong, and it is important that the civil servants should be the instruments and not the masters of the policy. They would have been just as loyal to the Conservative Ministers, and that is well.

The traditional career service that has been much maligned by progressive academics in recent years appears to have had a lot going for it. One of its strengths was an ability to get the right people into the right job, and give them the right training and tools to do their job. This bill attempts to restore, and then enhance, that principle. I believe that in such a working environment people will naturally perform well without the need to continually threaten their employment or pay packets in the process.

I now turn to the bill itself. It intends to achieve two goals: (1) to bring greater transparency and accountability to the employment regime for senior executives; and (2) to return to the traditional concepts of a career public service. Like the traditional career service, the focus is to get the right people into the right jobs, and then give them the right training and tools to do their job.

The bill contains three main initiatives. The first main initiative is the creation of a senior appointments commissioner, whom I will mainly refer to as the commissioner. This person would oversee the employment of all senior executives in our public service. Our

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