Page 867 - Week 03 - Thursday, 10 March 2005

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MR SPEAKER: I welcome to the gallery some guests of the Assembly from the Ted Noffs Foundation.

Questions without notice

Mr Rob Tonkin

MR SMYTH: My question is directed to the Chief Minister. In November 2003, Mr Tonkin was seconded to the COAG bushfire secretariat. However, the government took until February 2004 to develop the administrative arrangements order creating the Office of Special Adviser. It was not until April 2004 that the government issued a financial management amendment guideline attaching the Office of Special Adviser to the Chief Minister’s Department.

Why were the administrative arrangements order and the financial management amendment guideline not issued until months after Mr Tonkin had started work in the position at COAG?

MR STANHOPE: The administrative arrangements in relation to the secondment of Mr Tonkin from the Chief Minister’s Department to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet were undertaken by senior officers of the Prime Minister’s department. From recollection, the arrangements finally put in place were undertaken by the then acting head of the Chief Minister’s Department, Mr Mike Harris and Ms Davoren.

The delay between the decision that Mr Tonkin would be seconded and the formalisation of the arrangements through the signing of the necessary document would simply be a reflection of the technical issues—the administrative and legal issues; considerations taken in relation to the transfer—and the simple pressure of work. There is no reason other than that is the time it took Mr Harris, Ms Davoren and those that they sought advice from at that time in the preparation of the necessary documentation.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. What was Mr Tonkin’s status until these important documents were issued? Why was it necessary to backdate the financial management amendment guidelines?

MR STANHOPE: Mr Tonkin was a seconded officer to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. All the documentation for the administrative arrangements order that were put in place at the time was done by those officers within the ACT public service charged with that responsibility. My understanding is that all the steps that were taken were taken consistent with the Public Sector Management Act and the Financial Management Act.

I mentioned yesterday that the complexities involved in issues related to the senior executive service within the ACT public service are difficult and complex. It took some time to work through those. I believe advice was sought broadly from within the ACT public service. That advice was taken and responses made. Documentation that was required was prepared.

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