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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3658 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

framework which has an negative effect on continuing public confidence in government arrangements is clearly, in and of itself, not in the public interest.

The factors necessary as a precondition to the ability to act in the public interest are:

independent judgment;


appreciation of public values;

absence of conflicts of interest;

respect for constitutional legislative arrangements;

knowledge of the law;

freedom from undue influence of any sort.

The presence of all these factors will not guarantee that a public servant will act in the public interest, but the absence of any one of these factors will call the integrity of the whole administrative framework into question.

The Auditor includes a quote from a study undertaken in 1997 for the Institute of Public Affairs, ACT Division, that had interviewed over 20 past or serving Commonwealth secretaries. The authors of the report concluded:

limited terms have produced some insecurity and uncertainty for departmental secretaries;

it could not be said that a secretary would not be unaffected by some speculation of future prospects;

employment conditions may increasingly emphasise short-term perspectives when providing advice;

in the last year of a contract the authority of a secretary could decline, making him or her a lame duck compared with the authority of more permanent heads;

the introduction of fixed terms has made the pool of possible secretaries either think twice about the benefits of promotion or look much earlier at the prospects of private sector employment.

The South Australian Auditor then concluded that no government can say with confidence that the absence of the security of, at least, the contractual term of engagement free from the threat of removal without cause is not a factor in influencing a chief executive in the performance of his functions.

The former New South Wales Auditor-General, Tony Harris, conducted a similar performance audit in 1998, and wrote extensively in both 1998 and 1999 about the numerous problems that he found. I think it would be fair to say that they are very similar to the South Australian problems.

I suppose, as I said earlier today, Mr Speaker, that the most disappointing aspect of the legislation going down has been the attitude of the leadership of the Labor Party. I think we have all detected the confidence and, I suppose, arrogance on that side of the chamber. As I said earlier, we are all aware of the polls. We are all aware that in all likelihood the Labor Party will be in government next year.

Mr Berry: Have you got any details? I would like to know a bit more about them.

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