Page 3931 - Week 13 - Tuesday, 29 October 2013
understanding and a lack of training sometimes about appropriate workplace conduct. That can only be rectified as we continue to roll the RED framework out and continue to ensure that the leaders in the ACT public service continue to ensure that middle management and below, in particular, are trained and understand the fact that we have to support employees to do that work, and that at times there will be conflict. Where there is conflict it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible with the most localised response. It cannot just be left to work itself out because invariably what will happen is that the problem will get worse and it will escalate. In the worst-case scenarios you see people on long-term leave with significant injuries caused by a poor experience at work. I do not think anyone for a moment would support that outcome.
Again, we will have to continue to be vigilant. I think that a lot is being done. Where we get reports of bullying and harassment, the government takes them very seriously and will continue to follow them up and ensure that best practice is being implemented at every local workplace level, which is a challenge with a service delivery public service like ours, with workplaces all over Canberra—small, large, busy, operational. In all of the different environments we will continue to do that.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.03): I thank Mr Doszpot for bringing this important matter before the Assembly today. It is certainly not an issue that is going away in a hurry, it seems; we have had discussions about bullying in the ACT public service before.
I agree with the Chief Minister’s statement that issues will arise in any big organisation and that it is how you then respond that matters. Where we diverge, though, is, in my view, based on the evidence that I have seen, that I do not have the confidence that the ministers are responding adequately. In my view, there is more of a culture of cover-up and denial than of responding effectively and openly to matters that are raised.
There are some particular issues. Mr Doszpot has raised the issue about CIT. The number of 57 original cases—I think it was reduced to 42—is hardly inconsequential or a small number. I think we can see from the response of the minister that it has been inadequate. And we have seen in this place before the issues that have arisen in Health around obstetrics: 13 doctors resigned, complaints were made, and the report that was tabled said that the review panel identified an apparent systemic and longstanding reticence by managers to address disruptive or inappropriate behaviour. It basically found that the doctors making the complaints, the staff making complaints, were validated—that essentially the senior management had been ignoring the staff.
But where does the leadership come from? In that case, the comments from the Chief Minister were things like these. On 18 February that year, she said:
... stop throwing stones and damaging the unit ....
... all I’ve seen is a lot of mud being slung around and no substantiation.
She said that this was a 10-year war in obstetrics. I remember that, with the previous Chief Minister, she then tried to instigate a witch-hunt on those doctors that had made