Page 1059 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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Then, in September 2004, a transmittal letter on Chief Minister’s Department letterhead and signed by Mr Tonkin appeared as an annexed report in the Chief Minister’s annual report for 2003-04. A short, half-page account of Mr Tonkin’s activities followed. This account was written in the third person, so was presumably written by someone other than Mr Tonkin. This person would not have been a member of the Office of Special Adviser as there are no employees of the Office of Special Adviser, other than Mr Tonkin. The signature of Mr Tonkin appears pixelated, indicating perhaps that it is an electronic signature.

There are a number of interesting features of these arrangements. It seems to me to be a highly unusual arrangement where an officer, let alone a chief executive on secondment to another government, has his salary paid by his home government. It seems highly unusual for a chief executive to be seconded. I cannot recall this ever happening in the ACT or any state government, or indeed with the commonwealth.

Most unusual of all, however, is the creation of an instrumentality for the sole purpose of seconding Mr Tonkin to the commonwealth. This appears particularly unusual when one considers section 29(2) of the Public Sector Management Act 1994,which states: “The Chief Minister may assign a chief executive (including an unattached chief executive) to special duties on behalf of the Territory.” Perhaps that is the appropriate way to second someone.

Evidence given on 22 February 2005 at the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into annual reports clearly suggested that, having completed his role in the COAG bushfire inquiry, Mr Tonkin was representing the territory’s interests on national security issues. As I noted yesterday, Dr Shergold has written to me on the subject of Mr Tonkin and advised that the “details of Mr Tonkin’s employment are a matter for the ACT government”. However, the ACT government seems to have no idea what Mr Tonkin is doing, other than to say he is on secondment.

Between November 2003 and February 2004, Mr Tonkin was receiving salary as a senior executive level 3.12, a level applicable only to the Chief Executive of the Chief Minister’s Department. He was not performing the role of chief executive; he was not an unattached chief executive. He is not entitled to salary at the level of 3.12 in the one-person instrumentality of Office of Special Adviser that was created to accommodate him. Given the size of the instrumentality he is heading, I doubt very much whether he should be paid more than a Senior Officer Grade C salary!

The amalgamation of the Office of Special Adviser in the Chief Minister’s Department via the amendment to the Financial Management Guidelines 2002 would appear to restore Mr Tonkin to 3.12 salary level as he was at that stage, by my reckoning, the Chief Executive of the Chief Minister’s Department. Unfortunately, at this time Mr Harris is the Chief Executive of the Chief Minister’s Department. In effect, the combined Chief Minister’s Department and Office of Special Adviser has two chief executives.

From 28 April 2004, we either have two chief executives of the Chief Minister’s Department or Mr Tonkin continues to receive salary to which he is not entitled. If it is the case that there are two chief executives, is the appointment of

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