Page 2411 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 29 June 2005

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Debate (on motion by Mr Hargreaves) adjourned to the next sitting.

Public Sector Management Amendment Bill 2005 (No 2)

Mr Berry, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (10.38): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Deputy Speaker, a fundamental feature underlying all Westminster style parliaments is the separation of powers doctrine. Under that doctrine, the Legislative Assembly Secretariat is separate from government agencies. But, currently, the Public Sector (Management) Act in some respects does not recognise this. From the appointment of the Clerk to the conduct of reviews, the powers currently reside with the executive.

The need for these amendments was identified in the last Assembly when we went through the arrangements to appoint the Clerk. At that time I undertook the process in close consultation with the administration and procedure committee, but found that after the merit process had been concluded we were required to seek the approval of the executive. Clearly, we needed to change this requirement, so drafting instructions were given and a number of other amendments were identified at the same time.

The bill was drafted to reinforce the separation of powers and to improve the administrative efficiency of the Assembly Secretariat. The features of this bill include:

enhancing the legislative expression of the separation of powers doctrine by removing executive powers in relation to the Clerk’s appointment, suspension, dismissal or retirement and instead vesting those powers in the Speaker;

providing a formal legislative basis for the Legislative Assembly Secretariat;

a requirement that the Public Service Commissioner seek the approval of the Speaker before a review can be conducted in relation to the Secretariat;

amending the provisions of the act in relation to acting appointment as Clerk; and

extending the disclosure requirements in relation to the Clerk.

This bill addresses these issues and amends the Public Sector (Management) Act in a number of ways. It gives new separate definitions for the Clerk and Secretariat of the Legislative Assembly. It then provides that reviews of the Assembly cannot be conducted unless agreed to by the Speaker, a change from the previous situation where reviews of the Assembly could be conducted with the approval of the Chief Minister.

The need for these changes has been around in one way or another since self-government. We do not appoint clerks that often, so it does not come to notice, but it did in the case of the appointment of the current Clerk. The power to appoint the Clerk is, under my proposed amendment, vested in the Speaker, rather than the executive. Under the provisions of this bill, the Speaker will make the appointment on the advice of the relevant committee and in consultation with the executive and the Leader of the

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