Page 3278 - Week 10 - Thursday, 25 August 2005

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MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Arts, Heritage and Indigenous Affairs) (4.59), in reply: The purpose of the bill is to make changes to contract employment arrangements for chief executives and executives in the ACT public service that will improve the management and responsiveness of the service. The bill also clarifies the employment powers of certain executives in government agencies and instrumentalities who are given powers equivalent to those of a departmental chief executive in relation to staff who are deemed to be covered by the Public Sector Management Act.

The bill makes a small number of core changes to address some of the more restrictive elements of the current chief executive and executive employment framework to facilitate the management of the public service and improve responsiveness, as well as enhancing career planning for executives to some extent. The government is committed to developing a strong executive service based on sound public service values and principles. We want to achieve an executive service grounded in sensible management arrangements and practices. We also realise that work force management and planning is not just about recruitment, but also about building and sustaining the work force.

The government must therefore provide market competitive conditions that retain our executives and recognise their contribution to the ACT public service. The public sector values essential for creating a strong executive service are supported by initiatives within the public service, such as the executive capabilities introduced in August 2002 and the executive leadership development program that commenced in 2003. A further program, “Take the lead”, develops staff at the manager level, both to retain those staff and to contribute to the development of the future executive cohort.

The bill will ensure that the legislative framework for the public service fully supports these initiatives. It will contribute to the development of an effective executive culture by improving career planning while supporting mobility across the service. The bill also recognises that project work, made up of cross-agency teams, was developed as a key strength to achieve government outcomes. The importance of project-based responses to emerging issues is likely to continue in the future. A limited set of changes is proposed to address these issues, which focus on increasing the workability of the framework, rather than altering the fundamental nature of the executive employment framework.

The first set of changes consists of new arrangements to facilitate executive mobility. The amendments provide for the transfer of chief executives and executives across the public service to support greater mobility within the service. Under the changes, chief executives can be transferred at level or to lower level positions, as needed. If a chief executive is transferred to a lower level position, his or her current remuneration at the higher level is retained for the contract term. This makes sense, given the small number of jobs at chief executive level in the public service. Other executives can be transferred at level.

The approach under the bill recognises the need for flexibility in deploying senior managers, but it also ensures that the individual’s views are appropriately taken into account. This reflects transfer arrangements that apply to other staff. The current gazette notification provisions are also extended to transfers to ensure that the Assembly and the public are informed about executive transfers.

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