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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3596 ..

MR KAINE (continuing):

unmerited power. I cannot condone that. So, regrettably, although I admire the sentiment behind the bill, I cannot support it.

MR BERRY (11.53): Mr Speaker, the aim to provide a public service that advises government without fear and in an independent way is a very noble aim. Those on this side of the house and, by the sound of it, Mr Osborne and others aspire to that aim. But it certainly has not been the experience of this Assembly as a result of the approach the government has taken in relation to its public service.

I will deal firstly with the fundamental issue which Labor has difficulty with in respect of Mr Osborne's bill. We are concerned that this bill attempts to shift the responsibility from the executive to the Assembly in relation to its public service. We think that is an inappropriate course. Under the Westminster system the public service serves the executive of the day, as it should do.

I note Mr Kaine's concerns about performance contracts and the closeness of certain public servants to-

Mr Osborne: Come on, pick it up a bit, will you. Put a bit of passion into it. Passionately argue against the bill.

MR BERRY: Would you stop that man from interjecting on me, Mr Speaker? He is throwing me off. He has got me worried. Involving non-executive members of the Assembly in the appointment of senior public servants would be a backward step.

Labor has reached an agreement with the labour movement in relation to changes to the Public Sector Management Act. Any changes to the act will be made in full consultation with them and anybody else interested in the matter when Labor takes office at some time in the future.

Mr Humphries: October, you said.

MR BERRY: Okay, 21 October will do. That is fine. We will just opt out. That will do us. On 21 October, according to Mr Humphries, we will be working on how we deal with our public service, but it will not be about undermining that independent advice which governments rely upon to provide good governance for their constituency.

This is an issue about the government of the day. There has been a tendency in this debate to create the impression that the difficulty with management in the territory has been the public service. Just a few days ago Mr Humphries issued a press release drawing attention to the hospital implosion and the Bruce Stadium fiascos as reasons, ostensibly, to redirect the public service. I know that the Auditor-General found certain elements of the public service wanting in the course of his investigation of those matters. But at the end of the day the public service is a product of the government.

I think the government expected the public service to inherit the government's philosophical position on many things. Public servants, as they are prone to, want to serve the government of the day within reasonable boundaries. I am confident that the boundaries put around our public service by this government required the public service to be an extension of the political arm of the government, in effect. I think that showed

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