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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2973

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(10.10) —Confronted with that wholehearted approach to the amendment, I am almost lost for words! However, the amendment is thought to be undesirable by the Government as the provision of appeals, even for a limited period would, in our view, break up the cohesion of the new system for promotion in the Senior Executive Service which itself places very strong emphasis on natural justice and a full and proper consideration of the claims of all candidates. It may take some time to introduce the staff appraisal aspects of the scheme but that has always been envisaged as being really helpful in its working rather than being essential to it.

The amendment is really unnecessary in so far as the new system for promotion in the SES really will be much more objective and thorough-going than the existing system. Even when one allows for the removal of appeals, one has a situation in which the Board is in a sense riding shotgun on the process and will be able to suggest additional candidates before evaluation is commenced and will be represented on all selection committees. After the selection committee process, secretaries to all departments will report to the Board for its consideration. In all cases the Board will be looking to see that proper processes have been followed and adequate search has been made and will be able to ask the departments to make another report. So from that point of view, in terms of guaranteeing the credibility of the results, one would not seem to need the appeal process in order to trigger the attention of the Board, as has really been the case in the past. All selections will now be more thoroughly considered in departments and they will all be considered again by the Board, whereas now the Board usually examines selections in only a very small number of cases where there are appeals.

As to some sort of additional layer of protection for staff members who allege there is some discrimination or other improper practice, now they will, of course, immediately from the operation of this legislation, be able to approach the Merit Protection Review Agency for assistance in those situations. So for all those reasons, approaching it from the point of view of both the quality of public administration and from the point of view of the position of staff members affected by it, we believe that the amendment is unnecessary and that it would, as I began by saying, break up immediately the effect that really this whole statutory new procedure is designed to achieve, and that is an integrated and cohesive new procedure.

Amendment negatived.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Sibraa) —Senator Durack, do you wish to move your other amendment at this stage?

Senator Durack —No, it is consequential.