Page 1874 - Week 05 - Thursday, 5 May 2011

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The broader context is worth noting here. The ACT government is in charge of a geographical area roughly the same size as Greater London. Our population is approximately 360,000 people and within 50 years that is expected to rise to 500,000. Government revenue amounts to roughly $4 billion. Approximately one-half of this figure comes from commonwealth grants and one-third from taxation.

Dr Hawke delivered his final report on the review in February this year. It contained 76 far-reaching recommendations. Some recommendations were subject-specific, for example, looking at the functional relevance of boards and committees or the potential for consolidated economic advice to government.

Other topics and accompanying recommendations were concerned with broader administration issues, such as how best to bring the territory into the space of open, transparent government; considering whether the cabinet process is over-engineered; looking at our current 81 reporting entities and asking whether this is realistic in a city-state model.

But the bill I place before the Assembly today implements the review recommendations that looked at the fundamental issue of a more streamlined, efficient administration.

This bill establishes a new single entity structure which will improve coordination and alignment of effort across government to better meet the needs of the community.

A newly created position of “head of service” will be in charge of the single entity. That person is to be entrusted with functions that have a clear whole-of-government emphasis. The head of service will lead whole-of-government strategic thinking, be responsible for ensuring implementation of whole-of-government priorities and direct how agencies are to contribute to those goals. Directorates will be placed under the stewardship of directors-general, whose role is to manage their respective directorates under the relevant portfolio minister, and to report to the head of service on whole-of-government issues.

This bill represents an exciting opportunity for the ACT public service as it introduces not just a new structure but a new way of working. The focus will not be on the achievements and results of individual directorates. Success will be measured by what the whole of the ACT public service can achieve.

The head of the service will be established by the inclusion of a new division in the act. This will enable the Chief Minister to engage a head of service on contract to manage the service, develop and implement whole-of-government strategies, provide advice and reports to the executive about whole-of-government issues, coordinate activities and outcomes across service units, direct service units in relation to critical or potentially critical issues, approve the structure of service units, manage the employment of members of the service, and manage the exercise by directors-general of their functions. The bill also provides for the head of service to perform any other function given to them by the Chief Minister or by a territory law.

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