Page 2531 - Week 06 - Thursday, 23 June 2011

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In the end it is up to the government to structure its administrative arrangements as it sees fit. In the end, what will matter is how well it manages them, what kind of leadership is delivered and whether we get better outcomes. There is nothing particularly objectionable about these changes. They may well make some improvements.

The one interesting thing to note that came out of the briefing was when we discussed some of the detail around how it would work, how it would change things. It certainly does in the technical legal sense give more power to the Chief Minister and to the head of service. That is neither a good nor a bad thing in and of itself; it is how well that power is used that will be the key. These machinery changes are really just a small part of any real reform. The real reforms will come in structure and in culture and leadership. But we have no objections to the bill as it is drafted.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (11.32): The Greens will be supporting these bills, but I would like to take the opportunity to make some general comments about the proposed reforms inspired by the Hawke review.

In principle the Greens very much agree with the concept of bringing the public service together to make it more efficient, with greater collaboration and a better use of resources. It must be said that the amendments alone will not do this. While they facilitate a change in the legal structure of the service to some degree, cultural change and the practical application of the new approach is what will make the difference.

A whole-of-government approach is important on a range of issues and I hope these changes will facilitate this. Issues like housing affordability and homelessness, the 40 per cent greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and the transition to a green economy as well as more general issues like effective community engagement will depend on all the directorates being able to work together to provide solutions.

There has been much criticism around the existence of silos, and I know from my experience in the community sector that you often get very different answers depending on who you are dealing with. As I said, cultural change will be essential. The problem of silos, I think, is now well recognised, and opening this up and obliging engagement with other parts of the public service will be absolutely essential if the government is to be able to deliver broad policy objectives and align the stated aims with realised outcomes.

On that point, we do now have a very large range of broad plans, policies and strategies in some areas, particularly higher level ones that have few tangible outcomes. On the other hand, of course, it has been very difficult to get plans and strategies on key issues such as waste. But I understand that Mr Hargreaves’s support for Collingwood has spread throughout his colleagues and all will come good in the fourth quarter this year.

These are important strategies and I do sincerely hope that increased collaboration between directorates will lead to better outcomes. This is a sensible basis for reform and there is a logical argument for the proposals that the Greens are happy to accept.

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