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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (9 December) . . Page.. 5046 ..

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Public Sector Management Amendment Bill 2003

Debate resumed from 27 November 2003, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (5.11): The Public Sector Management Amendment Bill 2003 will allow the transfer of Totalcare employees back into the ACT public service. Who of us will ever forget the wonderful Pryor cartoon of your efforts to save them and allow this to happen; so congratulations to you, Mr Speaker. With the winding up of Totalcare, the government has committed to transferring Totalcare employees back into the ACT public service. They will, in the main, go into Urban Services and into the Canberra Hospital. This bill provides power for the commissioner to declare those employees to be public servants. In nearly all cases, they will be made into general service officer classifications without disadvantage.

I would like to raise two points though. The notion that voluntary redundancies may be needed into the future should go on the official record as a warning. The other thing that we were still unable to ascertain is what will the costs of this transfer be when the Assembly is making decisions here. If it is the will of the government to bring these employees back into the public service, this is the right thing to do but we should, as Assembly members, know how much it is going to cost. I believe there will be significant financial implications for the winding up of Totalcare and we have not been told what they are or how the government will fund them.

As I said in the debate last week, we oppose the absorption of Totalcare. We think it should remain out there and it should be able to stand on its own legs but, seeing that the government is carrying this out, we believe this is an appropriate course, and the opposition will be supporting the bill. (Quorum formed.)

MS DUNDAS (5.14): The ACT Democrats will be supporting this bill. I understand that many current Totalcare employees covered by this legislation who are transferring to the ACT public service were working in the government linen service before it was originally moved to Totalcare. There may also be other staff who were working for the government and ended up working in other divisions of Totalcare. I believe these staff were transferred across because of an ideological campaign by the government of the day, founded on the belief that, if a government agency pretends to be a private company, it will miraculously return a profit. It does not seem right that employees should suffer because of this ideological experiment and the fact that it failed.

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