Page 2764 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (5.10):

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the Public Sector Management Amendment Bill 2005 (No 3). This bill amends elements of contract employment arrangements for chief executives and executives in the ACT public service. Following amendments to the Public Sector Management Act 1994 in 1995, executives are now employed on contracts of up to five years. Contracts are subject to provisions in the act, the public sector management standards and determinations of the Remuneration Tribunal. While contracts can be renewed, over time it has become apparent that this framework is quite inflexible and does not respond to organisational change. It does not readily support the development of executives within jobs or across the service or the need, on occasion, to marshal senior staff into project teams. The existing framework provides only a limited ability to manage a responsive public service.

The review of the Public Sector Management Act by the former Commissioner for Public Administration recommended a return to tenure for executives as part of a wider set of recommendations for a new act. While the government is considering its response to the commissioner’s report, this bill contains a number of intermediate changes to redress the impact of some of the more restrictive elements of the current chief executive and executive employment framework.

The bill reflects the government’s commitment to develop a strong executive service based on sound public service values and principles, while grounded in sensible management arrangements and practice. At the same time, the government must also provide market competitive conditions to retain these staff and respect their contribution to the public service. The legislative changes, which cover both amendments to the act and to the public sector management standards, also complement other initiatives such as an executive leadership development program. This program has involved most chief executives and executives in some way since its commencement in 2003.

The first set of amendments to the act provide for transfer of chief executives and executives across the public service. While the current framework provides for contract variations, it does not provide specifically for lateral transfer arrangements. Under the proposed changes, chief executives can be transferred to at level or lower level positions while retaining their current remuneration for the term of their contract. This is appropriate given the small size of our service and the limited number of jobs at this level. Executives can be transferred at level.

While on the subject of chief executives, it should be noted that the bill includes technical amendments to clarify the intended operation of provisions that deal with persons who exercise chief executive powers in relation to staff who are required, under other enabling legislation, to be employed under the Public Sector Management Act. These technical amendments reflect existing policy and are intended to put beyond any possible doubt that the relevant chief executives may exercise employment powers.

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