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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3600 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I believe that the contract system of employment has been a significant contributor to the debacles the Liberal government got itself caught up in under its can-do approach to government. Nobody seemed to be prepared to say "cannot".

This bill is an important initiative in improving government accountability, and I am happy to support it. It will not have an immediate effect, but hopefully it will lead to better decisions being made by the ACT government in the future.

I understand that experts advised Mr Osborne in how to structure this legislation. He will speak to that in the wrap-up. I understand that he also worked with the Trades and Labour Council to address concerns that were expressed. I understand that he also worked with the Labor Party. So it is disappointing that we are not getting greater support for this legislation.

MR QUINLAN (12.10): I can understand the motivation behind the legislation. We are hopefully coming to the end of an era when few-and let me stress "few"-public sector appointees have assumed key roles in some less than satisfactory administrative processes.

I am convinced that the root cause of the high-profile fiascos was more a function of the culture that emanated from the executive than it was a function of poor administration alone. It has been a great disappointment over time that the spotlight has been aimed largely at the innocent survivors of the years of bad administration rather than at those who are genuinely responsible.

I do have a little experience in appointing senior executives. I am not enamoured of the process set out within this legislation.

I agree with much of what Mr Kaine said. By coincidence, he is one of the few in this place with the practical background to make genuinely informed comment. I observe that public service heads no longer commence their careers as telegraph boys or girls and that the nature of public administration has changed, necessarily, because of the complexity of the way we do things and the way information is handled and analysed for the purposes of administration.

There is a need for changes to be made. I recall people passing through the administration of this place who were unkindly described as being a little on the cowboy side, and we have seen the product of that in some of the unfortunate outcomes.

The centrepiece of this legislation is the appointment of the senior appointments commissioner. The appointment is to be for seven years. I hope that is not changed by amendment. That means that we could have a different government, a different Chief Minister, different ministers and different public accounts committees still served by the same senior appointments commissioner. That could give rise to some difficulties.

I think we have to be practical and recognise that we have minority government in this place, and minority government spawns an array of committees that can be hostile to government. Committees are certainly not extensions of the ruling government party. That is one of the healthier dimensions of our system of election. But we have to learn to work with that.

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